- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The story of that championship seems to me to confirm or, at any rate, strongly to support a sort of hypothesis that has been forming in the back of my head for years—that golf tournaments are a matter of destiny and that the result is all in the book before ever a shot is hit. Looking back over Bobby's eight matches, you may see crisis after crisis, in those furious encounters with Tolley, Johnston, and Voigt, where the least slip in nerve or skill or plain fortune would have spelled blue ruin to Bobby's dearest ambition. Yet at every crisis he stood up to the shot with something which I can define only as inevitability and performed what was needed with all the certainty of a natural phenomenon.
For example, in the semis, there had been the 12-footer that Bob had holed on the 17th against Voigt when the match hinged on it. To resume Keeler's narrative:
"When I stood up to it," Bobby said, "I had the feeling that something had been taking care of me through two matches I very well might have lost and that it was still taking care of me. I felt that however I struck that putt, it was going down."
And above all there had been that historic tug of war with Tolley:
Bobby was extremely lucky to win that match, and he would be the first to tell you so. Square at the 17th tee, under a sweeping gale, it seemed destined that the argument between the "two most majestic figures of amateur golf" was to be adjusted at the terrible Road Hole, 467 yards around an angle to the right, with the best drive a dangerous crack over Auchterlonie's famous "drying shed."
Both players elected to stay well to the left; the pinch was too tight for any undue risk, with the match square. Tolley was five yards, or such a matter, ahead from the tee and Jones had to guess first on the desperate problem of a second shot to the long, narrow green with the horrid road along the other side.
Bobby took plenty of time while 12,000 spectators stood and suffered. He walked halfway down to the green—it was a distance of about 200 yards, I should say. He stood on a tall mound and considered the situation. I was standing with Dr. Mackenzie, who designed and built the Cypress Point course at Del Monte and other famous courses. We agreed that the most feasible shot was an iron pitched to the right—well to the right—of the diabolical little bunker set right in line with the pin, to swing leftward off the steep slope of the green and roll on toward the pin. So we were surprised when Bobby motioned to the stewards to move the gallery back from the rear of the green, near the 18th tee, which was well to the left of the bunker.
Then he went back and played. It was a bold shot, less obvious than the one Dr. Mackenzie and I had discussed. It was aimed to pitch in the hollow below the back of the green and roll on up, at the worst to be around the 18th tee with a fairly decent chip at the pin.
Bobby undeniably gave the shot a shade too much. I suppose that under pressure as extreme as he then was experiencing a man naturally hits harder than he intends. The shot was perfect in line but it came up to the level of the green on a big bound and not on a roll. It struck among the very spectators Jones had asked to be moved back. It stopped where he had intended it to stop from a roll up the slope. A line from an old romantic novel hopped into my head: "Men call it fate!"
Anyway, and uncompromisingly, it was a break in luck. Tolley now had a vastly increased pressure on him with Jones in a fair position to card a birdie four, and a certain par five. And when the big fellow's iron curled up short of the wicked bunker, I could see nothing but a win for Jones. I felt that no man living could execute so deft a pitch as would clear that bunker and stop anywhere near the hole, cut in that absurdly narrow plateau green with the road just across it. In the road likely—never near the flag, I felt.