3M Greats of Golf: Your Free Ticket to Walk With Legends
Posted by Brandon Hedges & Matt Barker on Monday, July 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM By Brandon Hedges & Matt Barker / July 13, 2015 Comment
Imagine starting your golf round with 8 straight birdies. Annika Sorenstam did just that at the Standard Register Ping LPGA event at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix -- 14 years ago. The longest string of birdies her caddy Terry had witnessed was five-in-a-row. After eight, Annika admitted that her mind was wandering and she got nervous. No woman had ever shot a golf round under 60 strokes and she dreamed about making history. She told her caddy: “Let’s get a par on this hole.” And then she steered her drive into play and two-putted the ninth green for par. Mission accomplished. At the break between nines, her excitement rose again and she exclaimed: “Terry, are you ready for more birdies?” And then resolutely proceeded to birdie the next four holes! The buzz spread like wildfire across the course. Something epic was happening and fans flocked to her gallery to follow the quest. When she birdied Hole 17 she reached 13 under -- right on target for a record score of 59. At Hole 18 she had a white-knuckle 3 footer left for par. She thought: “It’s only 3 feet and I have done this millions of times before in practice and competition. Trust yourself! I lined up the ball, took the putter back, accelerated through and it went right it!” Annika ran to her caddy and leapt into his arms. She had made history — the first woman to shoot 59.
“With the new additions, The Big Three, Annika Sorenstam and all of the legends together will provide golf fans a world-class viewing experience,” said Jim Fall, vice president Global Sales for 3M.The Post-It® Products Greats of Golf Competition is a team competition teeing off after the regular field at 11:50 a.m. on Saturday, August 1st. We report on the runaway success of their recent stops and explain why free admission offered for this event is the chance of a lifetime.
Houston StopFor the six marshals working the par 4 eleventh hole at the Insperity Invitational in The Woodlands last year, spectators were scattered and passed by at a leisurely rate. Besides the steamy temperatures in Houston, the main challenge was to stay focused as virtually all the professionals were hitting the spacious fairway on the 418 yard hole. Bernhard Langer, Tom Kite, Fuzzy Zoeller, Colin Montgomery, Hale Irwin and Kenny Perry moved through with little fanfare. Looming though, was the warning that the really big crowds and challenges were still hours away when the “Greats of Golf” would pass by. Tournament directors cautioned: “No autographs and keep the gallery outside the ropes!” By the time that Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino reached the hole, a huge gallery swelled both sides of the fairway. For the first time all day, marshals scrambled to block fans from crossing the fairway and held arms overhead to hold down the din and excitement. This group was escorted by more police officers than any of the regular Senior PGA groups. Yes, this surreal setting would make your father proud! This was a wonderland where two 75 year-olds and a 79 year-old, playing a scramble from the front tees -- were the headliners. All doubt about who the stars were, was erased when the Golf Channel devoted the bulk of their coverage to each shot made by Jack, Gary and Lee. You could feel the emotion as the three long-time rivals joked, reminisced and embraced throughout the round. On the par 5 thirteenth hole, the team left themselves behind a bunker, facing a daunting wedge shot with only a sliver of green to land on. Sounding like a threesome at your local municipal, Trevino hinted to days-gone-by when Jack’s short game was suspect: “Have Jack hit first, have Jack hit first.” The greatest golfer of all time, shrugged off the slight, stepped up and hit a towering parachute wedge that landed 3 inches from the hole and stopped on a dime. Not only did this shot thrill the crowd, it amazed Player and Trevino. They had never seen him hit such a shot before and asked:
“Where did you get that shot?” Nicklaus deadpanned: “I am playing a lot more than I used to.” And there were high fives all around. Trevino highlighted the moment: “We don’t know when we are going to see each other again and that makes this so special.”
Rubbing Elbows With The ProsThe 3M pro-am practice rounds are free and open to the public as well. Pairings will be posted at the 3mchampionship.com site. Play starts at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday July 29 and Thursday July 30th. I’ve had the opportunity to fill-in pro-am slots in Minneapolis and Houston. The first time our group joined Phil Blackmar who won the Champions Tour AT&T event in San Antonio. Phil casts an imposing figure, 6 foot 9 inches tall and every bit of 275 pounds. By coincidence, my pro-am partner had played in the NFL, was 6 foot 7 and over 300 pounds. This was too much for fellow Senior PGA pro Fuzzy Zoeller to resist. He sauntered over and announced:
“Blackmar, that open invitation to join me on my bass boat……is withdrawn for you and your buddy there.”During the pro-am round, Blackmar boomed 300 yard drives and notched 9 birdies. Each time he would roll in a long putt, we noticed his veteran caddy Linn Strickland whispering a string of profanities. By the third birdie, I asked him what was wrong? As the oldest caddy on the tour, he stated confidently that each birdie carded during a practice round would be subtracted from their real event round by the “Golf Gods”. The next day I followed Blackmar, who polished off a lackluster 73 by three-jacking the finishing par 5, from 18 feet. His caddy may have been on to something? As is the unique personal nature of the Champions Tour, instead of commiserating the closing hole, Strickland picked me out of the stands and yelled: “Tony, you owe me a Crown Royal, meet me in the Clubhouse!" About two weeks later, I received a hand-written note from Phil Blackmar, thanking me for the round together. What an unexpected and caring gesture that was.