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Saturday at Doral, high noon, blue skies, palms swaying. Pretty nice, right? There's Phil, on the range, Butch and Bones at his side. Behind them, behind the ropes, the crowd's three deep. Banana Boat sunblock. Cuban cigars. Silicone breasts. Caps signed by Camilo, by Ernie, by Rory, by Hunter. (A Colombian, a South African, an Irishman, an American.) And here, bounding down the range, heading straight for Lefty & Co., comes a new man on the scene. Newish, anyway.
Alvaro Quiros of Spain—tall and lanky, 27 years old, four days of stubble on his long, brown face, scorecard pencils for sideburns. White belt. White shoes with old-school metal spikes. (If your swing clocked in at 124 mph, you'd have real nails in your shoes too.) Sky-blue striped shirt. Navy-blue slacks with one back pocket. (The Continental look lives!) AL-vah-row Kee-ROHSS is in the house, flashing his big toothy grin.
"Hell-low Pheel, Bootch, Bones." Long nods from Mickelson, from Harmon, from Jim Mackay.
The caddie (Mackay) tells Quiros about the last time he saw him, in early March, in the clubhouse at Whisper Rock, the swanky Scottsdale golf hangout, fast asleep in a big leather chair at lunchtime, the pale glow from a flat screen on his face.
Why would you sleep at night if you're Alvaro Quiros, when you're the life of the party, when you're the guy who was bold enough to hit into Tiger Woods (albeit accidentally) last year at the PGA Championship, on a 606-yard par-5, the second a driver off the deck?
"Yes, yes, yes," the golfer says to Bones, smiling and nodding, remembering his Whisper Rock siesta. He talks with his whole body. His shoulders go up and down, up and down. The head tilts from side to side. His voice is a song. "Yes, yes."
Quiros grew up with his parents and kid brother in a house about the size of your ordinary suburban American living room, near the gates of the Valderrama Golf Club, on Costa del Sol. His father was—still is—a gardener and his mother a housekeeper. Look where golf has taken Martin and Rosa Quiros's first-born son. To the leader board at the CA Championship in Miami on a postcard Saturday. To a secluded corner of the cathedral, chatting up the trinity of Butch and Phil and Bones. To the epicenter of the game.
Jim McLean, the golf instructor and Hoganphile, approaches the range. He could watch Quiros make swings all day, even if the speed of his move wears out others. "It's homemade," McLean says. "I like that. He's like a big version of Sergio. They both have the Hogan lag. That's where the power comes from. You see the Seve influence all over Alvaro. The slashing swing, the outgoing personality. He's an artist." Maybe apprentice artist would be more accurate. If his pitching and chipping game were as big as his personality and his driving game, you'd already be on a first-name basis with him. He'd be Ollie, and then some.
The Ryder Cup was played at Valderrama in 1997, its first time in continental Europe, a move engineered by Ballesteros, for a team he captained. Young Alvaro won a free ticket by winning the boys' title at his public course, La Canada, where his father taught him the game. Seve mesmerized him, even if he was simply driving a golf cart. Before that Ryder Cup the main impulses in Alvaro's life were to play soccer and golf, in that order. The European win changed everything. That is to say, after the '97 Ryder Cup, Alvaro reversed the order: It became golf first, soccer a close second. When he returns to Cadiz, in the south of Spain, to the apartment he rents there with his girlfriend, he spends weekend afternoons playing pickup soccer games.
Quiros is one of those rare souls—like Seve driving a golf cart or Meryl Streep doing her nails—who makes some ordinary act look entertaining. Quiros is slow over the ball, but you'd pay to watch this guy throw grass and point his long arms into the wind, his face all contorted in confusion, trying to figure out wind direction. Watch him eat an apple. On one long par-5 at Doral he took several man-sized bites of a Granny Smith, put the apple on his towel, played his second and returned to the apple, now nibbling away until the core was about the size of a golf tee. "I don't waste," he would say later. "That's how we grew up."