Patrick Gallaher is a retired, Auburn University-educated engineer with a single-digit golf handicap. He bleeds non-Texas-like orange and actually believes that SEC football of today can hold a candle to the Southwest Conference power of the 1960s.
But, importantly, he has a steel-trap memory: when Patrick tells a story from memory, I typically ask him what day of the week and at precisely what time that memory was made. You get the point. When I asked him how many times he ever heard Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus in a post round interview say “we” did this or “we” did that, he quickly replied “I’m pretty sure, never.”
After his record-setting 63 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, Justin Thomas repeatedly used what my bride alludes to as “the royal ‘we’” to describe his phenomenal accomplishment and his plan for the final round. I was both pleased and tickled when Paul Azinger finally said: “Well WE are not going to lose any sleep tonight, but HE is.”
Azinger was by no means being critical; he just was pointing out that no matter how many “team” members (e.g. caddy, trainer, psychologist and nutritionist) are employed by professional golfers, only the golfer ultimately hits the shots. Only the golfer can make the ball go wildly off the mark. Only the golfer who has a career-round today can feel the agony when as so often is the case, the next day’s round is a disappointment. Sadly, Thomas felt the pain on Sunday.
Through most of golf’s history, the job of a caddy was to “show up, shut up, and keep up.” One of the first player-caddy relationships to deviate from that model was that between Jack Nicklaus and Angelo Argea. They worked together for more than 20 years.
Even so, Argea was quoted as saying that he essentially did two things for Nicklaus: “He asked me to do two things. When he’s not playing well, one, remind him he’s the best golfer out there. And two, that there’s plenty of holes left.”
Today, if you look carefully at players as they warm up before a round, you’ll see all sorts of people who seem to be standing around chatting like MLB players at the pitchers mound. With a little research, you can learn to recognize some of them, such as Sean Foley and Butch Harmon; you likely will not see Dustin Johnson’s chef, who commonly gets flown in to see to it that the world’s No. 1 eats “clean,” as his caddy/brother Austin says.
When the Championship trophy got engraved at the close of the 117th U.S. Open on Sunday, only the name Brooks Koepka was carved.
He won’t get a trophy for it, but I am sure the guys in the weekly senior scramble at Bayou Golf Course are happy to have Penny Perez back on the course after a lengthy recovery from surgery.
Penny also didn’t pocket any cash last week, as the team of Mark Napier, Gary Potter and Daryl Stewart won a score card playoff after shooting a 60 to tie with Brent Allen, John Duree, Amos Sewell and T.W. Bevil.
As I explained last week, missed putts added seven or eight shots to a recent score. Thing is, I really wasn’t stroking the ball poorly; I burned the cup both sides or the ball would stop just short of the hole. When that happens for two or three consecutive rounds, there can be no doubt: the putter just is not trying hard enough.
That putter is now sitting just outside the golf bag, in sight of the alternate that I keep on standby. Guaranteed, when at some point down the road I return that putter to the bag, I will putt lights out. If you don’t already have at least one backup putter, get one today.
Or, you might want to try what PGA Tour Pro Jason Dufner has been working on. He reportedly hired a sniper (yes, that kind) who is teaching him some breathing techniques that help snipers to stop other living things from breathing. The basic idea is to get totally calm and still before pulling the trigger.
I guess it felt strange the first year that Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus had both forever ceased playing in the U.S. Open. Strangely, I really don’t remember what year that was. This year, for the first time since 1994, neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson were participants, and that, too, felt strange. We don’t know whether both will ever again play in the same U.S. Open.
Oh, and I also have my own coach, instructor, trainer and psychologist. They all live together inside my brain, and they all talk at once — during my swing.
Be safe, on and off the course.