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"We tried to do something different and worthwhile for golf, and nobody cared," said Maurer with obvious bitterness. "I'll argue with anybody who says we did it strictly to sell land. We're selling all the land and condominiums that it's prudent for us to sell."
Maurer is a rather humorless fellow most of the time who appears to be all business, no nonsense, and in something of a hurry. Without question, however, he has improved the Pinehurst area without destroying the old charm. And in making the announcement that the tournament would be renewed, he displayed a flair for dark comedy that even his employees did not know existed.
Nicklaus had said it was the "time of year" that kept him away, and Weiskopf had said he already had scheduled an elk hunt, and Trevino had said he couldn't go anywhere for two whole weeks. So when Maurer went before the small band of media assembled for the World Open and Shut to inform them that next year's event would be held in September, that it would be a normal 72 holes, and that the money was coming down to $325,000, he took some aggressive delight in remarking, "I hope September is a suitable time for Nicklaus. Trevino only wants to go somewhere for a week, so we've fixed that up. I don't know what we'll do about Weiskopf. Maybe we can stake out a caribou on the first fairway."
Throughout the whole affair in Pinehurst every conversation seemed to work its way around to why—really, honestly, deep down, why—so many of the game's top stars refused to enter the tournament. And this in turn led to the larger problem of how the sport can ever guarantee a sponsor the glamour types he wants.
"The great thing about a Crenshaw is that he gives golf an instant new hero," said Maurer. "We need more. And then it won't be so important that you don't have a Nicklaus around."
The gossip was that Nicklaus and Maurer had once discussed a business opportunity, that Jack had been disenchanted with Maurer's approach to him, and this was the true explanation for Jack's absence. Both Nicklaus and Maurer deny this.
Nicklaus was saying not so long ago that he would "love" to play at Pinehurst because he likes to play nothing but "great golf courses." On the other hand, the dates were inconvenient for him; he had other commitments he could not get out of, such as the World Cup in Spain and the Disney, where he has to defend, and he had long ago scheduled these two weeks in November as a period of rest and relaxation, and that was that.
Weiskopf argued that he was emotionally "drained" after the streak he had been on—winning six tournaments and never finishing worse than sixth over a 14-tournament stretch—and he was not entering another event the rest of 1973 even though he could capture the Vardon Trophy by simply showing up somewhere. He was going on the elk hunt (with Nicklaus, as a matter of fact), and then he was going on an African safari, and then he was going to do nothing but rest up and get ready for the whole grind again after the first of the year.
Trevino was serious when he said, "Man, I can't go anywhere for two whole weeks." To know him is to believe that. Also, Lee despises playing golf in cold weather, and he suspected the weather at Pinehurst would not be to his liking. He was correct. There was ice in some of the bunkers the first week and the wind had a bite to it.
Johnny Miller had intended to enter but he withdrew with the flu, and everyone at Pinehurst accepted this as being reasonable. And, finally, Tony Jacklin has given up competing in the U.S. altogether, except for major championships, and he was not willing to leap up immediately and dash over here with the feeling that Pinehurst had created a fifth portion of the modern Grand Slam, which seems to be the goal of every new tournament.