Friday, January 18, 2008

I have a confession to make. Last Saturday at the Kemper Open was not a good day for me. I had ingested some slightly dubious Italian food on Friday night, and when I woke up on Saturday morning I knew it was going to be a tough day on the links. It was to be Port-o-let city for me. Later that day, I strapped my RF (radio frequency) pack around my waist (which didn't help), put on my headset and strode manfully out to work. But the day was going to feel like a long one, if the rumblings in my stomach were any kind of prognosis.

My first problem, however, was to be with my equipment. For some unknown reason I was picking up air traffic control at Washington's Dulles Aiport on my headset. At one stage, somone asked me for my height and position, so I told them I was 5-foot-11 and in the middle of the eighth fairway.

Inevitably, I hit a patch of intestinal turbulence near the 12th green while Rich Beem was in the middle of making a double bogey. The Port-o-lets were agonizing close on the other side of the creek, about 20 yards away, but the nearest bridge was over the back of the green, and I had to wait for Rich to putt out. Alas, dear readers, the end result was, how shall I put it, a trouser tragedy that resulted in my mysterious absence from the broadcast for about 10 minutes, and a pair of brand new jockey shorts had to make the ultimate sacrifice.

You could be forgiven for wondering why I would share such a personal passage with you, but here's the rub. The following day, when I joined the young man who had led the Kemper all week on the second fairway, he told me that he had something for me. He rummaged in his bag, pulled out a bottle of Pepto-bismol, winked and then went on his winning way. Apparently, he had got wind of my trouble the day before. Or perhaps that was downwind. The mere fact that he thought to stop in at Eckerd's on his way to the golf course that morning for my benefit is an indication of the strength of the man's character.

Rich Beem is an interesting young man. He led the tournament, but for about 10 minutes in the third round, for all four days, but found time to talk to me in between almost every shot. It was also a great comeback for Steve Duplantis, Jim Furyk's former caddie, who is a single parent and travels with his 3-year-old daugher Sierra. Along with Stuart Appleby's recent win in the Shell Houston Open, this was another tournament with a feel-good ending.

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