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Simply Simons At The Crosby
Dan Jenkins
February 15, 1982
Playing in pain, with an ever-so-conventional white ball, Jim Simons shot a record score to overcome Craig Stadler's lead
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February 15, 1982

Simply Simons At The Crosby

Playing in pain, with an ever-so-conventional white ball, Jim Simons shot a record score to overcome Craig Stadler's lead

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On Saturday night, before the final round, Simons spoke to three doctors. He had finished his third round 71 at Spyglass with literally only one eye, because he had been forced to remove both contacts from the left eye to ease the pain. He used eyedrops all through the night, and between shots on Sunday, when the overcast mercifully dimmed the sun, he put on a pair of dark glasses.

Simons has had a reputation for being a slow player. He has speeded up some over the past two or three years, but he still can stand over a putt so long the gallery will be on the verge of screaming. Well, if a man can't see....

Simons hasn't had any outrageous success on the tour. This Crosby was only his third tour victory in 11 years. For this reason he recently had become a stockbroker for Shearson- American Express. "I was obviously planning for a different future," he said.

As a golfer, Simons has a stylish swing, but he has always been a woefully short hitter. In length off the tee, he is in the bottom 5% on the TPA tour. This led him to try the weird-looking metal woods. He insists they have added 15 to 20 yards to his distance.

What the orange and lime-green balls are going to add to the game can only be answered by Calvin Klein.

Designer golf balls have been used on the pro tour for a while but nobody paid much attention to them until the first round of the Crosby. That was because a lime-green ball wound up tied for the lead and an orange ball flew into the cup for a hole in one on the most frequently water-colored par 3 in golf, the 16th at Cypress Point.

The lime-green ball belonged to Bruce Lietzke. He shot a six-under 66 with it at Pebble and shared the opening-day lead with Forrest Fezler, who was playing at Cypress. The man who got the ink at Cypress that day, however, was Jerry Pate, one of the finest shotmakers in the game. He has had two victories in majors, the U.S. Open and Amateur, but he's more widely known for having dived into a Colonial Country Club lake after winning at Memphis last year.

Pate was the guy who sent a one-iron cut over the water and then drew it back onto the green and into the cup for an ace on a hole that is generally considered to be a par 3� because of its length—233 yards—and difficulty. An ace on the fabled 16th at Cypress would be considered a rare deed with any kind of ball. There had been only three of them, and one of them was made by Bing Crosby. Pate's was the first in tournament competition, and his was obviously also the first with an orange ball.

Pate is under contract to Wilson, and he was first approached by the company about using a boutique golf ball several years ago, the theory being that perhaps a colored ball, as in tennis, might be easier to see, to track in flight. Optic Orange was the color Wilson had in mind. Pate said he would use a polka-dot ball for the right amount of money. The ball was approved by the USGA last fall in the middle of the Pensacola Open, which Pate happened to be leading. He thought about switching on that Saturday in Florida, but decided against it. "If I blow this tournament using an orange ball, the press will crucify me," he said at the time.

Pate won at Pensacola with the commonplace white ball and then changed to the orange. He finished out 1981 by tying for second and third in a couple of tournaments in Japan and coming in third in an event in Brazil. Before Pensacola. Pate had used the Optic Orange during practice for the Ryder Cup Matches at Walton Heath near London.

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