FOR THE AGES: KG’s “Routine Par3” on May15 at #14 RegionsClassic/Birmingham
FOR THE AGES: KG’s “Routine Par3” on May 15, 2010 at #14 Champs/RegionsClassic/Birmingham…
Remember Nicklaus’ famous par5 at 16 at Firestone about 40 years ago? That was nothing compared to this. Caddie Mitch Gross has chimed in with “the rest of the story” – see below. If KG ever writes a book (when he retires from competitive golf in about 10 years), I hope he devotes an entire chapter to this “routine” Par 3 he made at the 179-yd. 14th at Ross Bridge on May 15, 2010 in the 2nd round of the Champions Tour ‘2010 Regions Charity Classic’ in Birmingham (his 1st indiv-play Champions Tour event since the accident), playing with Peter Jacobsen & Bruce Lietzke.
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First, KG’s version, from his KG’s 5-15-10 Blog Post #58. . .
Regions Day Two, . . .
It was then that the big guy intervened with a classic wowsy moment. After I beat the 13th hole into a coma with a birdie from the trees, I had the honors on the par3 14 – 179 yards to the pin and a nice front pin over water. I calmly decided to power a 6, where I hit this fan shank into the water. When I arrived to survey the situation I was told it was swimming with the orcas. I was kinda screwed and trying to figure out where to drop it when I noticed that I saw the ball down in the moss filled pit was potentially playable. It was then I tried to figure out how to climb my one legged body down there. It was a 5 foot rock ledge climb where I held on to rocks, women and wine. Once I had successfully gotten to the bottom, I had to walk back up to the ball – the 10 yd. journey on moss, rock, water and little creatures was filled with numerous slips but not once did I go down. I then decided that I was there and was gonna see if I could get the ball that was completely submerged out and up over this 5 foot ledge to the pin which was a mere 60 feet away. With one quick slap I got the ball out and up and on the green to about 20 feet. Awesome!! My caddy, Mitch, then pulled my butt up and out. He of course showing his extreme athleticism and fell down. After I stopped laughing, I went over and simply knocked it in!!!! A par called ‘classic’. It was a memory hole!!
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Now, Caddy Mitch Gross tells us “The Rest of The Story”…
…Comment Posted 5-19-10 by Mitch (to KG’s #58):
Ken is understating what happened, though he is accurate about me falling backward to get his butt up and out of the creek. To this day the shots he made constitute the single greatest par I have ever seen, heard about, or read of. And that’s no exaggeration.
Once we found the ball in the creek it was a foregone conclusion we would pick it up and take a drop. Peter Jacobsen asked the marshal 4 times whether the ball might have crossed the hazard and rolled back in. No such luck. The ball went in on the fly. Lietzke said, “Maybe you didn’t see it right. It looked like it crossed to me.” Again the answer was “no.” All this time Ken stood looking down at the ball 20 feet below the putting surface sitting on a moss-covered boulder. It was clearly beneath the surface and oscillating gently in the current. Jacobsen finally noticed a place where Ken could take a drop.
No one, and I repeat, no one, conceived he would attempt to hit that ball. The marshal bent down to pick it up and Ken stopped him. “I really think I can get it out,” Ken said.
When Lietzke heard it he was in shock. “Maybe you better rethink this, Kenny. A guy with two good legs couldn’t get down there.”
Jacobsen echoed the sentiment.
Ken said, “Look, there’s a low point about 30 yards away. I’m pretty sure I can make my way back to the ball.”
When he started down, Rose Lietzke, who was caddying for her husband that day, pinched me and said, “Stop him. He’s going to kill himself.”
Quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do. Nor did Mark Woods, the tournament chairman, who was doubling as a marshal. Nor did the Golf Channel cameraman, who had climbed down out of the tower and had come over, ready to jump in and rescue Ken.
It took several minutes of slipping and sliding for Ken to negotiate the slippery rocks and make his way to the ball. All the while Peter Jacobnsen kept muttering to himself.
Ken finally steadied himself and swung.
Water and mud flew into the air. A second later it arched upward and landed 25 feet from the flag. There was a collective gasp from the people there. The gum the cameraman was chewing fell out of his mouth. One woman actually started to cry. I swear.
Ken told the crowd, “I didn’t think I would hurt this leg,” he said, referring to his prosthesis. He then went on the make the putt.
By this time it was obvious we weren’t going to win the tournament. But it didn’t matter. What I saw was the essence of guts, determination, and a love of the game so great, a man was not going to give in without a fight. He job was to shoot the best score he could and that’s what he did.
On the way down the 15th fairway, Peter Jacobsen fell in step beside me and said, “I hope you know you just witnessed a miracle back there.”
That night, I wrote to my agent about what had happened. He sent the email verbatim to a book publisher who called me and asked me to recount the events. As I did, he become choked up. So did I.
There is an old expression that goes, “A man who won’t be beaten, can’t be beaten.” I never knew exactly what that meant until the other day.
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Followup 5-19-10 by Mitch:
Col., regarding “Ken is understating what happened, though he is accurate about me falling backward to get his butt up and out of the creek.”, I did fall backward hauling him out, but it was more as a counter-balancing move. That slope was steep and if I let go, he was definitely going for a swim. There are certain moments in sports that transcend the game itself. Some of them are major events that took place in front of millions. Some in front of 15 people. I was there in Mexico City when Bob Beamon broke the world record in the long jump. I was there in Seoul, Korea when the women’s 4 X 100 relay team came back from an impossible deficit to win the race. I saw Secretariat win the Belmont by 38 lengths, Jack Nicklaus make the final birdie of his competitive golfing career at St. Andrews, Ali knockout George Forman. I read about Sarazen’s double eagle at the Masters. I saw films of Willie Mays making that catch over his shoulder in the World Series on a dead run. Let me tell you, there is no exaggeration when I say this was the greatest par I have ever seen, heard of, or read about. I feel truly honored to have seen it in person and more honored to have a buddy like Ken.