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My Drive to Be a Champion
Walter Bingham
October 04, 1971
The potential was there, no doubt about that. I needed just a few lessons and a week of practice
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October 04, 1971

My Drive To Be A Champion

The potential was there, no doubt about that. I needed just a few lessons and a week of practice

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Rios took the wedge from my hand. "It's really such a simple game." With that, he swung the club one-handed, hitting a ball stiff to the pin. He will never know how much that discouraged me.

Late afternoons I would turn myself over to Steve Mircetic, the club masseur. Mircetic came to the U.S. from Yugoslavia in 1957, lived for 10 years in Chicago, his favorite city, and then moved to Los Angeles because his wife thought it would be better for her health. Golfers are not big on massages, he says. He joined the club a year ago after losing a lot of money in a physiotherapy business. After my first massage, being without a wallet, I told Steve I would pay him in a few minutes, after I showered and dressed. "No rush," he said forlornly. "I've already lost so much money, a little more wouldn't hardly matter."

One day when Hunter was giving me a nine-hole playing lesson he told Hotfoot Harris to show me a moncado. As Jimmy approached my ball in the fairway, he took the bag off his shoulder so that the lower part of it swung forward along the ground, knocking the ball a good 10 yards farther. A caddie, walking 150 yards ahead of the players and blocking their view with his body, could probably get away with it.

The moncado was named in honor of General Hilario Moncado, a memorable Riviera figure. Hotfoot Harris said the General, a Filipino, was captured by the Japanese at the start of World War II, lined up against a wall with some other hostages and shot. Except that somehow the General was not killed and managed to escape from under a pile of bodies. Hunter had never heard that version, but said the General did arrive in the U.S. just after the war with lots of money and a love of golf. He was not a bad player, but by the simple means of playing with amenable companions he would record all sorts of remarkable scores.

You'd finish a hole and ask, "What you get, Bill?"

"Four."

"Harry?"

"Five."

"General?"

"Three."

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