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Tonight’s story will feature Buck Moore. The year was 1996. Buck Moore had been caddying for me for a few years and we were playing in the Nissan Open in Los Angeles. I showed up late Wednesday because I flew home the prior week to enjoy Bacchus parade and Mardi Gras. Week started a bit crazy. Major snow storm in Salt Lake City on my connecting flight, had to pay my way into getting the last seat on the last plane to LA. Imagine this, I come out the gate with 70-69-71 and we are sitting pretty on Sunday. CBS announcer Gary McCord said to me that "I should party more based on how I was playing". Riviera Country Club, one of my favorite courses of all time. You have to drive the ball both ways to really play well there. Sunday pairing, Freddie Couples and Steve Elkington. I think we all birdied the first hole and then things got interesting. Freddie always had the biggest crowds and the hottest women. Elkington had just won the PGA Championship in 1995 at Riviera. And then there was me & Buck. We had won nothing. On the second hole, I hit my drive about 20 yards past Elkington and 10 yards past Couples. Elk would always walk a head after his shot, pretty standard expectations for a veteran player (note-I get along a lot better with him now than ever before. Back then we were just too competitive). Freddie would show a little more love to the younger guys and wait on their shots if they happened to hit it past him. Elk hits, then Freddie and the crowd is going nuts. They get right on top of you at Riviera, narrow corridors. I back off my second shot and tell Buck he's got to keep the crowd still. He tries desperately but no one listens. Then he yells again and Couples stops right in his tracks. Buck was 6'4" country strong and all of his sons were collegiate athletes. Ricky Moore was even featured on the cover of SI in 1999 when UCONN won the national championship in basketball. Back to the story. I hit my second shot, a 5-iron, a little thin and it ends up about 5 yards short of the green. I've got steam coming out of my ears because the crowds are just moving everywhere. Buck wants no part of it and says we got to play golf. I turn around to the security team that is basically following Couples and say to them, "Guys, I've never won on the Tour and today's going to be the day so I want everyone f'ing still when I'm hitting". I walk off and Buck stops me about 30 yards away and says you need to calm down. I go to apologize to the security team and a LT with the LAPD puts his arm around me and says "Don't worry about it, we've got your back. Your the first pro that's talked to us in two years". Fast forward through the course, I'm essentially two shots out all day. We get to the 18th hole, I'm two shots back of the lead, Craig Stadler is holing out on 18 right in front of us to finish at -6 for the championship. I'm last to hit again in the fairway. I had bombed my drive up the right side and was sitting on a 7 or 8 iron to the green. We are standing to the right of my ball waiting on the other two players and I ask Buck, "What do you think?" As I say that, I can see the sound guy from CBS TV crew sneaking up behind Buck with a microphone/satellite dish about 3 yards away. Buck does not see him and gives me crickets for an answer. The veins start popping in my arms and my neck, my heart is pounding. Buck knows it and is trying to figure out what his answer is. I grabbed both the 7 and 8 iron and pull them halfway out of my bag. I say, "Buck, what do you think?" And he comes back with this all time beauty, "You know what I like? (as the CBS sound guy leans in) I like you hitting the best m'fin' shot of your life!" I was completely shocked and I look up at him and say "What?" As the sound guy is running away, Buck says that's what I like, you need to make this. So I proceeded to scull an 8 iron and we laughed all the way up to the green. I got it up and down and Freddie and I were just laughing as Elkington putted out. We didn't win but we had a great time. Love me some Buck Moore. One of the nicest guys ever. Have another Great Buck story from the BC Open in Edicott, NY that is legendary. Will try to share that one later.

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