“Did you ever get bored with it?” “Never” he said. “It was never scripted. I never did it the same way twice.” I asked him what his lowest handicap ever was. “A grumpy two” he said. He talked about how practice was frowned upon in his golfing boyhood. Even practice swings. “We practiced by playing” he said.
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It was a moonless night but the hotels lining the fairway provided some ambient light as did the flashlights on our phones. Mike Sean and I ripped our drives the sound echoing off the buildings like gunfire as the balls disappeared into the gloaming.
“Phil’s style — the way it comes through on TV with the fans is the way he comes through with his friends too. We were playing a practice round at the Presidents Cup a team match to get ready for the format.
I’m not that old but I am a dinosaur. I started covering the Open long before the Internet existed. In those halcyon days writing only for a weekly magazine I would routinely sneak out of the press tent around supper time and play golf until the sun set around 10 p.m. Some combination of fellow SI warriors Michael Bamberger John Garrity and Gary Van Sickle served as wingmen. These twilight rounds on the linksland were one of the great pleasures of the job.
On Wednesday of Open week I went for a run first into town then up a long long hill out of town. I don’t map or plan my runs. I just run until I don’t feel like it anymore or until something captures my interest and I kept going up this country-lane hill and for some reason was not getting tired. When I saw a spectacular-looking restaurant in the middle of farm fields I stopped to take a look.
I first became aware of this bit of golf lore in 1991 courtesy of a man named David Joy an artist and actor and native son of St. Andrews who just then was developing Old Tom as a character.
After that? Well it was time for some well-deserved rest. Not too much though. The English PGA Professional Championship begins Tuesday and he has a 2:13 local tee time. The British Open is upon us and so is another GOLF.com major pool.
My wedge shot felt a hair thin but right on line. Mike played his shot just short of the green while sadly Sean was in pocket both his drive and mulligan having disappeared into the night.
Charlie Golfer completely overwhelmed was speech-less for several seconds. He then enthusiastically related that his family was doing great spun around and left with his chest puffed out telling his friends ‘See? I told you he was the nicest guy ever. And he’s got a helluva memory!”
He knows all about the movie about Young Tom Morris that came out last year but kept his distance from it. He played Old Tom hundreds of times in various parts of the world.
And it’s a great quality to have. He gets knocked down and gets right back up again I don’t know how many times. You can’t even count — and it’s made him a champion.”