I was on my way to the 18th green to interview some of the early finishers in the afternoon wave when I bumped into Jerry Pate. He put the Stadium Course on the map when he won the tournament in 1982 and dived into the lake after pushing designer Pete Dye and Commissioner Deane Beman into the water.
Pate was wandering the hallways of the media center with a couple of pals. I asked what he was doing in town and he said, "I’ve got a couple of things to do." TV thing? "No, I had an offer but I turned it down," he said. "So what are you doing?" He rubbed his fingers together and smiled. "Oh," I said, "Corporate outings." He nodded.
Pate inspected the entrance of the media center. Paintings of the former champions have been replaced this year by classy black-and-white photos of the winners.
"Check out those pants," Pate said, gesturing to his photo on the far end of the wall. "You can just about see my ——- in those things, they’re so tight."
Thanks, Jerry, that was more information than I needed. We chatted about college golf for a moment. His alma mater, Alabama, is ranked No. 1 in the country and playing in the same NCAA regional next week as Marquette, the school where my son, Mike, plays. "They won the SEC, first time ever," Pate said. "I hope they win it all. You don’t get many chances at that. They’re pretty good."
Next up? Pate will compete in the Senior PGA Championship in two weeks at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., the first senior major of the year.
(Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)