- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
For his insult to the Old Course, Half-Knickers would get his in the gorse and in a number of bunkers, most grievously in the Hill bunker at No. 11. Many of the St. Andrews bunkers have names. There are, for example, the Hell, the Beardies and the Principal's Nose. My favorite is the Sutherland. It was named after a fellow who, they say, spent more time in it than he did in his own home.
At the 11th hole, where Bobby Jones picked up his ball and quit the 1921 British Open and where Gene Sarazen once took a six from the Hill bunker, our caddie announced, "Gentlemen, this is the most difficult hole in the world."
The 11th is a par-3, 170 yards long, its green seeming to sit in the River Eden. Since I try to think like a golfer, in case I should hit the ball properly, I decided to aim slightly to the left and let the quartering headwind bring the ball into the green. Damned if I didn't hit the most gorgeous fade you ever saw. The ball wheeled in like a gull, took a little bite and rolled right for the pin.
"Shot," the caddie said. "Shot" is the only compliment you'll get from an Old Course caddie. I finished off the world's toughest golf hole with a 12-foot putt that burned the cup and a tap-in for par.
There are no bunkers at No. 18. The threat is the Valley of Sin, that big swale in front of the green. But it's a problem only on the pitch-and-run shot, which just happens to be the recommended shot to the green. The usual small gallery of amusement seekers were hanging around behind the green as we approached. I don't think they saw me duck-hook my tee shot. Or dub my second.
For my third shot, I flat killed a three-wood. It rocketed toward the left-front corner of the green, then suddenly dived down and raced right through the old Valley of Sin (I'd forgotten the thing was there). The ball had a sense of destiny. It rolled right up on the green and stopped 20 feet to the right, pin high. I'd just hit a classic Old Course pitch-and-run shot. With a full three-wood. The gallery had watched all this in silence, but that shot wouldn't be forgotten.
I left my first putt on the lip and tapped in for my bogey 5. My round had come to an end, and I calmly left the green, not yet aware that I'd just stepped into Old Course history.
A voice came softly from behind me: "Shot."
I raised my hand, casually accepting the tribute.
"Accident," I replied.