Dwight Clark The Catch Golf

By Rich LernerFebruary 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
49ers hero Dwight Clark was on his way to play golf, again. I played like 42 charity events last year, he told me with a kids grin in the Avis garage after landing in Phoenix. Im headed to Coach Ditkas tournament.
Long before he elevated high over the Cowboys Everson Walls in the back of the end zone to snare what Foxs Best Damned Sports Show deemed the greatest touchdown in the history of football, golf figured into the Dwight Clark story.
In 1979 Niners coach Bill Walsh called a dormitory at Clemson looking for promising quarterback Steve Fuller. Clark was on his way to play golf and picked up the phone. Walsh invited Clark to run pass routes for Fuller, well enough that Walsh made Clark a 10th round draft choice.
Two years later he cemented the legend, describing The Catch in perfect detail for likely the 8,471st time for yet another fan.
It was 3rd and 3 at the 6 with 58 seconds to go and Dallas leading 27-21, he began and the picture became instantly clear, my mind pulling the 1982 NFC Championship game file card.
Funny, I jumped in. The play started at the 6 but it seemed like it was a much longer pass.
It was, he said. Joe had drifted back to between the 20 and 25 and he was off balance with people in his face.
One of those was 69 Ed Too Tall Jones. Accompanied by Larry Bethea and linebacker D.D. Lewis they collapsed the pocket and were chasing Montana to the sideline.
The play was designed for Freddie Solomon, Clark explained. Its called Sprint Option Right and it was the same play we used on the first touchdown of the game.
To this day, some people think it was just a busted play, a fluke. It simply wasnt. It was planned, he stated emphatically. It was in the play book and its still in the playbook for teams that use the West Coast offense.
The idea is that if Freddies covered, Joe looks for me and throws it high enough so that either it goes out of bounds, leaving us with at least a fourth down play, or I jump high enough to catch it, Clark said.
For the record, Montana has said he couldnt see the end zone. He was on his rear end, courtesy Too Tall. But he claims he knew exactly where Clark would be. Walsh thought the ball was OB and had begun to call a 4th down play. He heard the roar. Vin Scully immortalized it on television, Jack Buck on radio. The 49ers went on to beat Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI, their first of four. Dallas, dominant in the 1970s, would fail to make a Super Bowl in the 1980s.
Here, Clarke said. Check this out. He reached into his bag and pulled out a small, plain wooden jewelry box. He lifted the top. He had one for every finger. Count em five, five Super Bowl rings. I bring them to my appearances because people get a kick out of it. He won two as a player, three as an executive. His number 87 was retired by San Francisco.
Today at 51 and living in his native North Carolina, Clark maintains the same lean, athletic frame and an 11 handicap. Like any golfer, he marvels at Tiger.
He may be the best of all time in any sport, he said. I know what its like to have a three foot putt for two dollars and my hands are shaking. I pull for Tiger because the pressure on him is enormous and he just keeps answering.
Clark, ever the good teammate, wont play the Montana versus Brady game. He acknowledged Bradys greatness, but then said, I was in the huddle with Joe. He was mentally tough, the calmest guy in the stadium.
With Montana and Rice and Craig and Taylor and Walsh would those great 49er teams have challenged the vaunted Patriots? I think so, Clark said. But theyre well coached and they put a great game plan together. Theyre tough.
This is how it goes for our sports legends, forever re-creating their great moments or pontificating on the big games of the current day. Dwight Clark appeared very happy in the role, headed to play another game he loves. He was just warming up.
Hed no doubt be obliged to explain The Catch countless times at Coach Ditkas tournament. A day on the golf course lends itself rather well to a good story.
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.