God it hurt late last year when I wasn’t part of the action for the first time in decades. I watched from the comfort of my lounge on the TV every shot of Pete Senior’s remarkable victory at the age of 53 in the Australian Open at The Lakes in conditions most foul. It was the same the following week when Daniel Popovic, virtually unknown to all but his family and friends, won the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum and if ever there was a story that tugged at the heartstrings his was one. His father, Radi, was watching too from their Templestowe home in Melbourne as he continues his fight against an incurable form of bone cancer.
The cyber world has gone viral with the photograph of play being held up while Karrie Webb and American Jennifer Song waited for a mob of kangaroos to cross the ninth fairway of Royal Canberra in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open but what of the day the resident roos stopped a US Presidential cavalcade.
That was on Wednesday, November 20, 1996 when President Bill Clinton visited the Federal Capital and called at Government House to pay his respects to Governor General Bill Hayden. Clinton had been told, most likely by Greg Norman, that the grounds of the big house would be literally leaping with our unique marsupials.
Jack Nicklaus still cuts a proud figure. He always has. There was the time back in 1971 when he and a handful of Australian mates went to a French restaurant in Paddington for dinner on the eve of the Dunlop International tournament at Manly GC.
“Wear something inconspicuous, don’t stand out in the crowd,” the Golden Bear was urged.
You’d hardly call a pillar-box red jacket a cloak of anonymity but that’s what he wore. Let’s save the rest of the yarn for another time except for the not insignificant detail save that Cinderella’s coach was already a pumpkin when he departed and the next morning with a 7am tee time he darn near broke 60. He was 11 under through 16 holes, but made par at the 17th and bogeyed the last for a 62.