SI Vault
 
A Wood can be a putter
Barry McDermott
August 08, 1977
If his first name is Willie and he is 16, he is likely to hole any ball on the green, which he did often enough last week to win the National Junior championship
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 08, 1977

A Wood Can Be A Putter

If his first name is Willie and he is 16, he is likely to hole any ball on the green, which he did often enough last week to win the National Junior championship

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

It rained Friday, but Saturday was clear and dry and both semifinal matches had the same script. Pavin got off to a three-up lead over Wood, and Evans had Games four down, but the matches went to the final hole. Wood won one up when Pavin hooked a five-iron into deep rough and double-bogeyed the hole. "I thought about Arnold Palmer and Gary Player," said Willie, describing his comeback. "Palmer would hitch up his pants and Player would grit his teeth, so I hitched up my pants and gritted my teeth." Meanwhile, Games won four of fives holes on the back nine, two with birdies, and held on for a one-up victory over Evans.

Like many of the players, Wood was carrying his own bag. "It costs $7 for a caddy," he said. "I can't afford it. Whew, that plane ticket killed me." Although Wood was shaky in the semifinals, it was a different scorecard in the afternoon. He one-putted four of the first five holes, two for birdies, took a two-up lead, and when he birdied the 9th hole from 18 feet, Games, who was within five feet of the cup, just shook his head. Games missed his birdie and made the turn three down.

Games is a very determined kid. He was raised by his grandparents, plays golf in order to pursue a college education and throughout the week he had rallied from behind. On Friday against Greg Ladehoff, of Clinton, Iowa, he was two down with two holes left, but he won on the 19th. But Willie Wood was a different opponent. He just kept driving the ball in the fairway, shouldering his clubs and knocking his approaches close to the hole. When he one-putted the 12th through 15th holes, using a hickory-shafted putter he estimates is 60 years old, it was all over.

That left Willie with only one problem: how to buy pants. You see, he has a 28-inch waist. "I'm not big enough for a man and I'm too big for a boy," he drawled. Right now, he is just about junior size, championship category.

1 2