Albuquerque 1994 was one of the most entertaining weeks of my career and it got off to a rip roaring start with Brian Pavlet (1993 National Long Drive Champion) hustling me. Someone arranged a long drive event in conjunction with the Nationwide(Nike) Tour event that week. On Monday after I played my practice round, about 15 of us showed up at some guy’s house who lived 500 feet above the Rio Grande. It was about a 350 yard carry from what looked just like a tee box over the river.
We had a contest where we just rotated hitting and if you didn’t hit it over the river, you were eliminated. It came down to Pavlet and I and I was still bitter at that turd for lucking out against me the previous fall at the Nationals. We went tit for tat and each hit about 5 or 6 straight over the river and there was no end in sight. So Brian suggested we try to hit 1-irons over the river to decide the winner. I laughed and agreed.
Since I had my regular tournament bag with me, +1 long drive club. My 1-iron was a standard 40 1/2″ with a steel shaft and 17/18 degrees. I hit one and didn’t sniff making it over the river. Brian pulls out this 45″, graphite shafted, Yonex monster, that was bent down to like 10 degrees and ripped it over the river. You would like to think that was the end of the story, but it gets more entertaining.
I start Tuessday by giving one of my long drive and trick shot shows for the locals. Afterward 2 really cute bartenders with tongue studs offered to get me drunk and keep me out all night on Thursday night. Like a moron, I respectfully declined because I don’t drink, that was during the tournament and I was trying to get on the PGA Tour.
After the exhibition, I played in a horse race with Tim Herron as my partner and we finished…second.
Then it was time for the long drive event. Again, I finished second and I forgot who won, but it was probably that so and so Brian Pavlet. The funniest part was a long driver to be nameless winged his driver after being knocker out of the finals by yours truly, it careened off a pole on a tent and almost took the heads off two volunteers.
It was now getting dark, but there was yet one more event. Gerry James (senior long drive champion) got some money from his grip company to sponsor an event. There was a 45″ limit on shafts (Pavlet’s one iron might not have been legal) and no fairway because he said he was by far the longest and he would win every event if hitting it in the fairway wasn’t a factor. It was pitch dark by now and we were all hitting at once. We couldn’t find any of the balls, so Gerry anointed himself the winner.
Thursday rolls around and the greens were really soft, extremely bumpy and I was the last group of the day. I hit it really well, but lived up to the stereotype of a long driver, had 40 putts and shot 74. Yes, I hit almost every GIR and par 5’s in two. Except the last one. I broke my putter on 17 after 3-putting. On 18 I had to layup after driving it 3 miles off line, hit a terrible wedge and canned a 30 footer for birdie with my SW to shoot the 74.
I was mad so I decided to let the bartenders get me drunk and keep me out all night. The next day, hungover and on death’s door, I somehow managed to be around even through 13. On 14 I had a chance to hit a par 5 in two from about 260. I literally blacked out in the middle of my swing and hit the ball pin high about 150 yards right of the green. Not an exaggeration as I was almost pin high and had to hit full 9-iron to the green and 3 putted for bogey.
I then birdied the last 4 holes, including a lip out on a green side bunker shot for eagle on the last hole to, if I remember correctly, miss the cut by a shot…and I am still angry at Pavlet for beating me at the 93 Nationals…and he’s still a ^%&%^^%. 🙂
In case you are not yet familiar with my sense of humor, I really like and respect Brian