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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Do NOT Play Arnie for Money...

Even if he is 82 years old. The same goes for Jack and Gary. The over-70 set will eat you for lunch.

The Big 3 stride to victory

The leaders of the Insperity Championship on the Champions Tour were the secondary story of the day... and they'd probably tell you they didn't mind. Half of them ran from the scoring tent to watch the real show for themselves.

OK, here's the deal: Insperity thought it would be cool to have a tournament within the tournament this year, so they came up with the idea of having the living legends of the game play a scramble as part of the second round. They invited 9 of the surviving legends to play a threesome scramble right behind the last group of the regular event. The teams were:
  • Miller Barber, Don January, and Dave Stockton
  • Lee Trevino, David Graham, and Gene Littler
  • Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer
Over 40,000 fans showed up for the scramble. That might have been a shock to some, although Trevino said he personally knew of people who drove 500 miles for the chance to see the Big 3 play together.

But the real shocker was how well the teams played. I think the first two teams managed rounds of -9 -- that's better than some of the rounds at the Shark Shootout! (Yes, I know we're talking threesomes rather than pairs, but there's a slight age -- and practice time -- difference as well.) And then the Big 3 blew everybody out of the park.

Gary, Jack, and Arnie managed a bogey-free -11 to win the 18-hole scramble.

And these weren't lucky shots either. Jack and Gary were competing to see who could drive it the farthest, then who could hit it closest to the pin. Often one would hit a shot to within 5 to 10 feet, only to have the other tuck it inside. And Arnie was making putts from all over, including a 25-footer on the 18th to seal the victory.

If you want to read a bit more about it, here's a link to a summary of the event and here's a link to the after-round interview with Jack, Gary, Arnie, and Lee. I think the best thing to come out of this is that all four said they were open to doing something like this again.

In case you didn't see it, you should. I can almost guarantee that GC will replay it more than once since this could be the last time we get to see all three play together competitively. This is one nostalgia tour that's worth its weight in gold.

The photo came from the summary article. And, btw, Tom Lehman and Fred Funk are tied for the lead at the main tournament.

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