People vs. the Pros seemed to elicit a wide variety of responses. From, Please dont ever do that to me again to, THAT MUST BE REBROADCAST, the responses ran the gamut.
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One common theme was one that Lee Trevino alluded to the two times I interviewed him on the course. The older Andy must have been a sandbagger, was a common theme; although, I must say that I found poetic justice in the posting that read something to the effect of: The ultimate hustler just got hustled.
I have absolutely no background information on Andy Rineer, so I wont attempt to defend his personal integrity. I will, however, share the fact that I thoroughly examined the amateur entry guidelines. My assessment of those entry guidelines is that the organizers went to great lengths to ensure that the handicaps of all 200 amateur participants were legitimate.
Lee Trevino played poorly. Although his typical entertaining persona was evident at every juncture, he wasnt himself on the course. And he got beat by a guy with a 10 handicap who, in my opinion, played the round of his life.
Andy Chao (aka. Rockboy), the under-50 amateur qualifier that spent his share of time in the desert, didnt have a good day against John Daly. Although I thought he was far more composed on the first tee than was Rineer, he seemed immeasurably more affected by the pressure once play began.
On the first hole, Daly putted up to about 3 feet. His ball was near Chaos line so Daly asked if his mark would be OK. Chao, not knowing the intricacies of tournament golf amongst the pros, replied, Yea, thats good. Daly assumed that Chao had actually conceded the putt so he scooped it up with back of his putter and stood aside as Chao proceeded to three-putt from about 20 feet uphill. It wasnt Chaos intention to concede the putt; however, here he was on the first hole playing head to head with one of the games modern legends. He must have thought, Who am I to then tell Daly that I had actually wanted to see the putt? It was the first of many instances when the conceptual charm of this made-for-TV event was evident'regular Joe vs. a legend. Charm is an accurate description for the way Rockboy handled himself.
Every time Andy Chao hit it into the desert, my job was to billygoat my way up to his ball in order to accurately describe his predicament. And every time he got to his ball and I was standing there, he would say, Sorry Jerry, as if he felt some unnecessary need to apologize. I was the one that felt sorry for him. Not sorry for the way the competition turned out, but for the fact that it was obvious he is a fine player who was way out of his element. Daly played relentless, nearly flawless golf against him, and Andy really didnt stand a chance from that fateful first green when he three-putted to lose the hole.
Andy Rineer, a day trader by profession who lives in Las Vegas yet ironically professes to not enjoy gambling, seemed unfazed by the surroundings as he stuck to his game plan and easily defeated a struggling Trevino. In hindsight, he was fortunate Trevino wasnt on his game for a couple of reasons.
If Lee Trevino played the way were used to seeing when he won 29 times of the PGA Tour and 29 times on the Champions Tour, then Rineer would have been in big trouble. And when Trevino plays well, Trevino gets chatty'extra chatty. Much to his credit, he gave Rineer a great deal of respect. He spared him from the legendary antics that are part of the folklore surrounding Trevinos early days as a hustler in El Paso. Trevino could have easily worked Rineer with the needle. It wouldnt have been tough; any amateur golfer in his situation would have been ripe to fold under such pressure, and if Trevino had started in on him with the verbal jabs, certainly Rineer would have been even more uncomfortable. Trevino didnt, and Rineer played like a 10 handicap who was ready for the biggest day of his golfing life.
From what I saw, Andy Rineer has a good golf swing. He has the ability to probably get his handicap down to a low single-digit number in time. However, his short game is a bit suspect. He had no difficulty keeping the ball in play, but like most players of all skill levels that dont get much chance to practice, his short game lacked a few things'most notably, touch. That should be understandable considering the circumstances.
I met Andy Rineer about 11:00 AM, a full six hours before the competition was to begin. Ben Wright introduced him to me and later as Ben and I talked, we agreed that he had no chance to Beat Trevino. He should have been resting, he should have been in comfortable surroundings, he should have been keeping his mind off what lie ahead as much as possible. But there he was, sitting in the clubhouse surrounded by strangers that kept asking the same question that I asked, Are you nervous? Not really, he replied, although I must say that I wrote it off as a man that was just trying to kid himself. I sensed nervousness throughout our brief conversation, and understandably so. I shudder to think how nervous I would have been in that situation and Ive had 10 inglorious years as a professional golfer. Hed never been in any situation like this in his life.
It was easy to sense that just about every person in attendance was pulling for the amateurs--kind of the American Idol TV show mentality. Unknown becomes star for a day. And although both Andys played starring roles, it was Rineer that received the heros welcome at the end of the day. A day that I wont soon forget, and a heartwarming day that I hope to be a part of again.
If I were a DBer (as the regular discussion board members call themselves) my post would read something like this: It was fun.
Which is exactly what it was supposed to be.