The year is 1994, it’s mid-April at the Greater Greensboro Open. To set the stage properly, I always have had trouble in the springtime when everything is blooming, I guess it’s unusual that I picked a sport that’s played in a grass arena. I’m basically allergic to almost everything that grows on a golf course. Pollen has an effect on my accuracy, at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
My caddy is a gentleman named Brendan Woolley from New Zealand. Brendan was a fantastic player and top-notch caddy on the PGA Tour. Years later, Brendan would be on Michelle Wie’s bag when she won her first LPGA event. He did not have such luck with me, but we might be in the history books forever.
As the story goes, we are playing and I’m getting pretty loose with my drivers early on in the week. There were some dog legs at Forest Oaks CC, and let’s just assume I was trying to take some short cuts. First round 70, not too bad but I picked off one unlucky spectator with my ball. I do the professional thing and give him an apology with a signed golf glove and ball. Second round is a 73, fighting to make the cut, I caught another unlucky fan while I was grinding for the weekend. Another glove gone and another ball gone. Third round, it’s starting to turn into an apology tour. I catch a person on the 1st hole and then another one on the back 9. Brendan kindly informs me, “we are running out of gloves, so just give her a hug and ball and let’s just get out of here.” I whispered to him, “let’s just keep this between you and I and don’t say anything to the pros.” I was truly embarrassed at this point.
Fourth round, enter Fuzzy Zoeller, who is one the most enjoyable pros you could ever get paired with, every hole was an exercise in humor. At the time, Fuzzy was sponsored by Kmart and there must have been a huge Kmart distribution center or 30 stores in Greensboro because the crowd was massive, and they were wearing Kmart shirts and/or hats while yelling “Go Fuzzy” on every hole. He had some passionate fans. I remember standing on the 1st tee and looking at Brendan and saying, “WOW ‘we’ better drive it straight today.” He looks right at me and says, “We? I haven’t hit a single drive all week.” Just for the record, through three rounds all those injured by my errant tee shots had been lower body shots without bloodshed. That’s all about to change.
We reach the 13th hole, I have the honor, first to hit, it’s a 185 yard downhill par 3 and the pin is about 12 steps on, but 4 yards from the left collar. The crowd is in tight, the rope line is literally 2 yards from the edge of the green. There is not an open spot to be seen, not that I was looking at the crowd. I was between 6 and 7 iron, after a little back and forth with Brendan. I go with the 7 iron, get a little too aggressive on my line with a little bit of a pull. As it is in the air, I was too scared to yell, “FORE.” I must admit, I was praying for a ricochet onto the green. After everybody including Fuzzy screamed “FORE!” as loud as they could, my prayers were not answered. It was violent, a guy ducked and my shot nailed an elderly woman in the forehead, then bounced backwards and hit the guy that ducked. The crowd is gasping for air, I’m in shock, and Brendan is crying while saying out loud, “That is number 5 and 6 for the week.” Fuzzy's head whips around at Brendan, and says, “WHAT?” As my face is buried in a towel, Brendan goes on to tell Fuzzy and the crowd how I have hit 6 people in 1 week. Fuzzy now can’t breathe because he is laughing so hard. Fuzzy then hits his 7 iron to 1 inch from the hole, which sends the crowd into a frenzy. The walk of shame ensues as I approach the elderly woman who is bleeding, but it’s not too bad. She is more pissed at the guy that ducked then she is at me. Miraculously, I horseshoed my chip shot for a tap-in par. The lady yells, “Can I have an autographed glove at least for my pain?” Brendan fell on the ground, and luckily we had one left buried at the bottom of the bag to give her. The show did not stop on the 13th hole. On the 14th hole, a par 5 with a lake in the middle of the fairway. I block a 3 wood off the tee, it flies straight into the crowd and everyone is aware of my antics at this point and they start ducking. No one got hit, but my ball came to rest behind a pickup truck. I was in bounds but the truck was between me and the pin, and it was on the golf course. I call for a rules official. Arvin Ginn shows up and senses my tension. He informs me that I am going to have to play the ball where it lies. I ask if there is any way we can move the truck. He gives me the look of “Are you kidding me?” then he walks away and then comes back and says, “we cannot locate the keys.” We are about ten minutes into this ruling when I ask Arvin, “If the crowd moves the truck is that allowed?” He says, “That would be allowed.” Well thank God for the Kmart warriors. Next thing I heard, “Hey Bubba, come on give me a hand.” About four ex-high school offensive lineman picked up the backend of a Ford F150, and shoved it 10 yards, almost into a creek. Arvin and the crowd where going crazy. Arvin is yelling, “Please stop, please stop!” I’m happy as I can be because now I have a clear path to the green. I ripped a low 4-iron through the trees and onto the green about 40 feet away from the hole. Easy two putt birdie. Fuzzy had been sitting on his bag smoking a cigarette, entertaining the crowd for at least 15 to 20 minutes. He just smiled at me and asked, “Was that a 4 you just made?” I said, “Yes, but I did not hit anyone.” Well, I can’t say that about the next hole.
15th hole slight dog leg right, I pulled my drive. It takes a HUGE bounce on the cart path and just nails a guy right in his rear end then kicks off into the fairway. Fuzzy was having a meltdown. He yells out, “YOU HAVE HIT 7 PEOPLE FOR THE WEEK, and we still have THREE HOLES TO GO.” I finish that round with a 72, tied for 37th in the field. I made $6,450 that week. Thank you Titleist for providing me with 4 gloves and 4 dozen balls for the week. As an addition to the story of this massacre in Greensboro, I received a phone call a few years later in December, our off season, by Golf Digest. It was a young lady on the other end of the phone doing a little fact checking. Her question was simple. “Is it true you hit 7 people with your golf balls in one tournament?” I ask if it was a record. She answered, “I BELIEVE SO.” One year later at the Arnold Palmer Nestle Invitational at Bay Hill Golf Club during the final round playing with Jay Haas and Freddie Couples I blocked a driver right on the par 5 16th hole. I knew it was not a good place to be over there because I had hit it there during practice round. Freddie stopped me as we walk off the tee and said "come on man keep your head up you might get a lucky break". Well, Freddie's girlfriend (Tonya) was in the wrong landing zone. My errant driver nailed her in the back of her calf on the fly and took her down. She was taken off by cart before I reached my ball which she launched forward 30 yards closer to the green. I had a 7 iron in for my second shot with a perfect lie. Some young guys in the gallery who were following Tonya all day could not stop laughing, they said it hit her really hard. Dropped her right in her tracks. One said it sounded like I had broken her leg. I walk over to apologize to Freddie and he could not stop laughing. I was perplexed, I am really sorry I said again he says "don't worry Davis Love III hit her in the back last week with a two iron.” I think she left Freddie a few weeks later.