Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Tree-Climbing Kid Who Tried to Help Tommy Nakajima

You remember Tommy Nakajima, right? Great player on the Japan Tour, but remembered best (if that's the word) for making a 13 on one hole at The Masters in 1978, and then a couple months later getting stuck in the Road Hole bunker at St. Andrews during the British Open. Which is why that bunker is sometimes called "The Sands of Nakajima."

Tommy didn't have a lot of luck. According to Wikipedia, his 13 on No. 13 at Augusta National went like this: "After hitting his fourth shot into Rae's Creek, Nakajima elected to play the ball rather than take a drop. He popped the ball straight up and it landed on his foot, causing a two-stroke penalty. When he handed the club to his caddie, it slipped out of his hand and fell into the creek, incurring another two-stroke penalty. He chipped over the green, chipped back on and two-putted." Ouch!

But Nakajima was involved in another odd incident, this one at the 1987 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. His approach to the green went into a giant tree and never came down. Hey, it happens. But in Tommy's case, an energetic and spry teenager named Kevin Moriarty tried to help him out - young Kevin scampered up the tree, nearly reaching the very top, shaking branches along the way to try to dislodge the golf ball. If the ball dropped, Nakajima could have identified it and taken an unplayable.

But Tommy just never had good luck in majors. The ball didn't drop, and he had to take a lost ball penalty.

Here's video of the tree climber in action:

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