Acquasanta is a tremendous golf course. Only 6,515 yards, par 70, dating back to 1903, but it is as tricky as can be, sloping away here and there, narrow, demanding, optional—a Roman Merion.
"Nobody is going to break 280," says Jacklin, "and I've got the king of Greece on my side." Constantine is following Jacklin's every shot, dashing to scoreboards for information on the leaders, telling him jokes and stuffing him with caviar nightly.
All of the names are up front, and the crowds are large. The weather is gorgeous and the course, surrounded by those ruins, is haunting. It's Sunday and Jacklin is battling Peter Oosterhuis, the glamorous Valent�n Barrios, a former matador, and France's Jean Garaialde. The king is sweating.
He delivers the news. Oosterhuis has faded. Barrios has bogeyed the last two holes. Garaialde has bogeyed the last two holes. Tony needs a closing par 4 for 284 and victory. The 18th is a long hole, uphill, 433 yards. Jacklin drives nicely but his second misses the green. Great chip, four feet.
"If the little beggar misses this, I'm going deeper into exile than the king," says Ben Wright. "My story's already written."
The putt drops.
Everybody is at the bar. Jacklin is buying drinks for whoever stops by. I think Piero and I are buying drinks for a king and perhaps a marchesa or two. Arthur Crawley-Boevey wants to walk to the Colosseum. Dick Severino needs a ride to the airport.
"And so, my friend," says Piero, "you have been to Biarritz and to Crans. Also to La Manga and Rome. And Portugal, too?"
"I haven't seen a Portuguese Open, if you mean that."
Piero throws up his hands.