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As good as Tommy O'Kane, who collected more dimes than a cable car conductor. As good as Johnny Miller, who once completed an 18-hole round in only 16 putts.
"When I was between 12 and 16," Miller will tell you with a straight face, "I think I was in the world's top 10 as a putter."
Told of Miller's boast, his old teammates begin nodding like bobbleheads: "Oh, he was! ... No doubt ... I'd say top three...."
Miller again: "We'd come up to a guy like you on the putting green and ask if you wanted to play three holes for a nickel. We'd win 25 or 30 cents that way, and then we'd go buy a heated sweet roll and a glass of milk." He chuckles. "We didn't try to cheat anybody, but there was no way you could beat us. Even George Archer and Bob Rosburg [established Tour pros who practiced at Lincoln and Harding] knew not to take us on."
There were a lot of great players and great teams," says Lunn, standing beside his trophy case at Woodbridge Country Club, where he has worked for more than three decades. "But our team clicked, and we were solid through the sixth man. We couldn't be beat in the city."
Or in California either, he suspects. But we'll never know. San Francisco's three-month high school season started in April and ended in June with the league tournament. There was no state tournament.
That great Lincoln team, for our purposes, spans the Miller years, 1961 through '64. Lunn was the oldest (18 when he graduated in '64) and the team leader. The long knocker went on to win six times on Tour, finished third in a U.S. Open, won a Masters par-3 contest, tied Hogan for the course record at Cypress Point (63), and made the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED before a wrist injury derailed his career at age 27. "Bob made the game look easy," says Nelson.
Nelson, a freshman in '63, was a mischief-maker who saved his money by sneaking through the muni fences on weekends. ("Doug played more 17-hole rounds than anybody," says O'Kane.) "I was always the kid," says Nelson. After high school, Nelson won the California Amateur, the Northern California Amateur and the California Four-Ball. O'Kane was the team's joker, but he was a serious stick. "Tommy was short and a little round, but he was a heck of a player," Lunn recalls. "If he had wanted to, he could have gone on Tour." Asked about his rep as a needler, O'Kane says, "Well, I got beat a lot by Lunn and Miller, so if occasionally I got in front of them, I couldn't let them forget it."
O'Connor, who rose to number three on the ladder, was 20 when he crashed the field of Tour pros at the 1966 Lucky International Open. He was Lincoln's Mr. Intensity, finishing rounds on greens illuminated by car headlights. "You know how [Phil] Mickelson, at his Hall of Fame induction, said he used to sleep with his four-wood?" O'Connor points a thumb at his chest. "So did I."