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LAWAL-SUR-LE-LAC is a charming village of fieldstone houses, poplars and maples, and gardens abloom with petunias, which lies about 20 miles from downtown Montreal. It is also the site of the lovely meadowland course of the Laval-sur-le-Lac Golf Club.
By the club's own regulation, 90% of its members are French-speaking Canadians. The atmosphere is pun-gently Gallic: the food is so good it is cuisine, the women of all ages have a come-hither that isn't store-bought, the score card is entirely in French, and on the first tee a sign admonishes you that "Les joueurs sont priés de toujours remplacer les gazons abimés"—nothing more or less than our old friend "Replace your divots."
A COMING CLASSIC
It was in this setting, so eloquent of golf's conquest of people who are supposed to be able to take the game or leave it alone in favor of more traditional pastimes, that the second annual Canada Cup matches took place last week. It is an event which, with the proper handling, can develop into one of the great sports classics of our time. In two short years the tournament has become a sort of an Olympic Games of golf. Each country that enters sends two of its crack professionals, the winner being the two-man team which turns in the lowest combined medal score for the 72 holes of play.
Last year, when teams from eight countries took part in the inaugural match, Argentina, represented by Roberto De Vicenzo and Antonio Cerda, won. It was a definite surprise inasmuch as an American team (Julius Boros and Jim Turnesa) was entered, but the match was generally written off as a long social-golf weekend. The Argentine victory was dismissed by most American golfers with the comment which has become par for the course after any sports event which the superior team happens to lose: "It's a good thing for the game."
Apparently it was. This year teams from 25 nations participated, and the tournament caught fire far beyond the expectations of its sponsor, the International Golf Association, a new interlocking grips-across-the-sea organization which is headed up by John Jay Hopkins, the American-Canadian industrialist. Jimmy Demaret and Sam Snead came up to represent the United States. It is no reflection on them to say they looked forward to a brief vacation in pleasant surroundings and to an easy victory. On the first round Jimmy and Sam were paired with two nobodies from the Philippines, Larry Montes and Celestino Tugot. Tugot, a thin-armed young man with skin like teakwood, outdrove Demaret consistently and outscored Snead 71 to 74. What was more to the point, Snead and Demaret's total placed them seven shots behind the leaders, Peter Thomson and Kelvin Nagle of Australia, and they suddenly realized that they were in a real tournament which they could easily lose unless they shot their very best stuff—and even then, could still lose.
THE GOING AMERICANS
By the end of the third round Snead and Demaret had succeeded in closing the gap between themselves and the Australians to two shots, but on the pay-off round the Australians pulled far away on the strength of a 69 by Nagle and a 66 by Thomson that could easily have been several strokes lower. Actually, the American team finished third, nine strokes behind the Australians and five behind the Argentines, proof indeed that the golf world is changing. There are at least a couple of fine golfers in almost every country now, and there are days when Peter Thomson is the best golfer in the world.
But above and beyond the tournament itself, there was a wonderful feeling in the air at Laval-sur-le-Lac that warmed the heart of every man who thinks of golf as an authentic international language. You felt it down on the practice fairway as strongly as anywhere. At the' far side, warming up with his short irons, was Piet Witte, a white-haired Dutchman who has been a pro for 24 years. Practicing next to Witte was Mario Gonzalez, a lean Brazilian. Then Mr. A. D. ("Bobby") Locke, the old internationalist from South Africa, whose physique is now beginning to take on a global contour; Flory Van Donck, the tall, suave Belgian; Naaman Aly from Egypt, in a pork-pie hat; Dai Rees from Wales, a superb striker of the ball. Next to Rees were the two Filipinos, Montes and Tugot. Tugot has a lengthy, American-type swing. He acquired it by taking Bobby Jones's book, Down the Fairway, onto the practice tee, placing it so the illustrations faced up, and checking his form with Jones's after each shot. Next to Tugot were Robert Lanz from Switzerland and Georg Bessner from Germany with his old J.H. Taylor putter.
All of them can appreciate a good golf shot and a good guy when they see one.