On rare occasions, golf offers up historic moments that receive so little fanfare, we don’t realize at the time how significant they really are. Such an event occurred at Cypress Point Club on Tuesday, June 11, during the week of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. In the long shadows cast by a rising sun, 16 past winners of the U.S. Open gathered to challenge what is arguably the greatest course in the world.
Invited by Cypress’ consummate head professional, Casey Reamer, to serve as a starter, I introduced the first of four foursomes at 7:15 a.m. There was no need for a microphone to make myself heard for a small gallery of club members. They had come to witness a group of guys who share a common love for the game and who happen to have their names engraved on the U.S. Open trophy.
The players were Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Geoff Ogilvy, Tony Jacklin, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Steve Jones, Andy North, Lee Janzen, Angel Cabrera, Retief Goosen, David Graham, Jerry Pate, and Michael Campbell. There was a lot of banter and good-natured kidding. As they took their places for a group photo, Nicklaus glanced over his right shoulder and joked, “What are you doing here, Pate? You never won the U.S. Open.” Pate answered, “I believe I won in 1976. Not for nothing, but I also won the U.S. Amateur in 1974.” As Jerry playfully rolled his eyes, he and the other men—Jack included— had a good laugh.