Carolinas Golf Magazine

SPR 2019

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even more important when the PGA Tour sent Sam a letter in 1972 advising him that if his performance at tournaments did not improve, his playing privileges would be revoked. Whether it was that "boost" or just a few bounces going the right way, shortly thereafter Sam finished second in the 1972 Canadian Open, coming up one shot behind the winner, Gay Brewer. Unfortunately, 1973 resembled 1972 for Sam and he again struggled to find his form. Another "friendly reminder" came in the mail from the PGA Tour, and Sam once again responded with a strong performance that held off the bean counters and temporarily boosted his bank account. Sam tied for fourth at the1973 Southern Open which was won by Gary Player. That fourth place finish took a great deal of pressure off Sam, and he continued his good play the next week at the BC Open in Endicott, New York. Sam then headed to Iowa for the Quad Cities Open in a very positive frame of mind. He was playing well, and he had finished in the top 25 of Quad Cities in 1972, so as Sam said, "I liked my chances." It's not clear that anyone else was thinking that way. In fact, if you had a bus full of the people who thought that Sam Adams would be the winner of the 1973 Quad Cities Open, Sam would probably have been the only rider on that bus. And his wife, Jackie, would have been the bus driver! The results in round one of the event also would have shaken the confidence of many. Sam shot a 1-over-par 72 leaving him far down the list and in danger of missing the cut. But on Friday and Saturday, Sam posted back to back 64s to move to the top of the leaderboard. He led by two strokes. Leading after 54 holes in a PGA Tour event was a new thing for Sam, but Sam never lacked for confi- dence. Sam had no trouble sleeping on that lead, he was just "glad to be playing good." On Sunday when he went into the locker room prior to hitting balls to prepare for the round, Sam found a note in his locker. It said, "Sam, it takes guts to win, and you've got 'em. Tom." The note was from Tom Watson, with whom Sam had played on Thursday and Friday of the event. Sam was paired with Bob Wynn and Deane Beman for the final round. Beman was the defending cham- pion, and he was obviously playing well again. Like Sam, Beman's strength was his putting. Crow Valley Country Club, the site of the tournament, featured slick , undulating greens. For Sam, that was like music to his ears, having grown up on the sloping greens in the mountains of North Carolina. The faster, the better. So that Sunday final round would feature two great putters. The round started with both Sam and Beman play- ing solid golf. After three holes, Sam still had the two- stroke lead he had started the day with as both players were one-under for the final round. At the fourth hole, the pin was located in a really tough and even ques- tionable spot. The two players were each below the hole and about six feet from the cup, but Beman was putting for par while Sam had a putt for bogey. Beman putted first, and his putt rolled past the hole, then rolled back down the hill and into the cup for a par. Sam's putt traveled a similar path and also went past the hole, but it missed on the way back down the hill, stopping very near the spot he had just putted from. Sam then made the putt for double bogey, and they were tied for the lead. That two-shot swing could have been the begin- ning of the end for Sam, but the very next shot on the par-3 fifth hole was the real turning point in the tour- nament. A pond guards the right side of the green, and Deane Beman had the tee and successfully played a safe shot to the open left side. You could just say that Beman was "taking double bogey out of play" or some similar adage that emanates from TV towers, but Sam looked at that shot very differently. In Sam's mind, the message was, "he (Beman) doesn't think I can win this thing. He thinks I'm gonna screw up." But that back right pin looked great to Sam's eye, and he used his natural shot, a lefty draw, to hit a nice shot to about five feet from the pin. In Hollywood, Sam makes the putt and it vanquishes his opponents. In Bettendorf, Iowa, as Sam says, "I hit a good putt, but it missed." Even with the miss though, Sam said, "see- ing him play safe against me, little ole' Sam from Boone, gave me a big confidence boost." S P R I N G 2 0 1 9 | | 19 COURTESY OF THE JOHN DEERE CLASSIC

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