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.
 
Email your thoughts to Rich Lerner
 
Related Links:
  • Rich Lerner's Archives
  • Full Coverage - Mercedes-Benz Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

    LPGA:

    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

    Getty Images

    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

    Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

    Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

    The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.