My first time – golfers share their game firsts – Brief Article
This month, we hear from PGA Tour player David Toms and reader Per Suhr.
I played a lot of junior golf tournaments growing up, but I’d only won events on the state level before playing in the Junior World Golf Championships at Torrey Pines in 1984. That was really the first national or world tournament that I won.
I was 17 at the time, and I remember playing with this kid from Japan on the final day. He was huge. Everybody around me was saying, “You need to check his birth certificate. He looks like he’s 25 years old.” That always sticks out in my mind when I remember that tournament. That, and the fact I shot a record score of 280 playing the South Course all four rounds.
Up to that point, that was as good as I had ever played–just solid, tee to green, and I made a lot of good putts. I ended up winning by four shots, and the fact that it was a record at the time was great. The record has since been beaten, but what a special week that was for me.
It was the first time I faced that kind of big-time competition and won. To be able to overcome that really helped me in years to come. And when you think of some of the people who have won that tournament– Tiger, Notah Begay III, Corey Pavin, John Cook, Craig Stadler–you kind of get an idea of how good the golf is in that event.
In 1960, I was 17 and playing a public course in Stamford, Conn., during the summer with one of my friends. I parred the first two holes, and when we got ready to tee off on the third, my friend said, “See that guy coming up to the second green? That’s Jackie Robinson!”
I looked over and said, “No way.”
This guy had silver hair, and the Jackie Robinson I had watched play for the Brooklyn Dodgers had black hair. My friend insisted that he was Jackie Robinson. The man approached and asked if he could play a hole or two with us. All three of us parred the third hole, and the man said that we both hit the ball pretty well and would we mind if he played three more holes with us?
Of course, we couldn’t hit it as far as he could, but we stayed close behind. We played four holes with him, and on the sixth tee box, my friend asked him for his autograph. Sure enough, it was Jackie Robinson. I asked him for his autograph and told him I was a Giants fan. He laughed and told me they had a pretty good team.
He left after the sixth hole, because he had to get back to work as vice president of a coffee company. He said he often came to the course during his lunch break and played a few holes. He then said he enjoyed playing with us. We never saw him after that.
I parred all 18 holes that day for a 72–the first time I ever shot par. I remember watching Jackie as he addressed the ball. He had an intensity about him, and I could tell he was as competitive about golf as he was baseball. It was one of the most memorable days of my life.
RELATED ARTICLE: YOUR FIRST TIME
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