For golf dorks, tomorrow begins the High Holy Days of the season: the Brit-tish Oh-pon. (It’s always much more fun to say it as Jeeves would.) In advance of the tournament, the Times ran a piece yesterday (see below for why I didn’t post it then) about what past winners have done with the claret jug after they’ve won the Oh-pon. Let me just say this: Justin Leonard is a square. Of all the things you can pour in the jug, he chooses his mother’s iced tea? That’s not the way a Dallas golfer should act. Take note of another Dallas golfer to win the Oh-pon, Todd Hamilton.
After he returned to Dallas, Hamilton was asked by a friend who owns a restaurant to bring the trophy over. The friend said he would give Hamilton and his party $500 off their bill. They arrived and drank Cristal out of the claret jug.
Soon enough, people began coming by the table to ask questions about the trophy.
“I’m sure a lot of people didn’t even know what it was,” Hamilton said. “Then in the middle of dinner, three guys started walking by.” Hamilton said he recognized one as Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and one as Jones’s son, but he did not recognize the third. Then Jerry Jones introduced him as Roger Goodell and said, “ ‘He’s going to be the next commissioner of the N.F.L.’ ”
Whenever Hamilton watches a football game on television these days, he waits for a close-up shot of the ball.
“You can see that Roger Goodell’s signature is on it,” he said. “I’m like, Man, I met that guy.”
Hamilton said he displayed the jug in public as much as possible. He said he would be driving around Dallas, pull up to an intersection, and say to himself, “I wonder if this guy next to me knows I have the claret jug sitting in the back seat.”
Hamilton said his favorite pastime was taking the trophy to different golf courses around Texas. While playing a round, he would leave the jug in the pro shop so guests could come by and take pictures with it.
“It’s something people know around the world,” he said.
Leonard, who won at Troon in 1997, said he usually kept the jug at his parents’ house in the Dallas area. He rarely took it outside, except for the time or two he took it to his golf club.
See? Leonard is no fun. But Todd Hamilton, you are my hero. If you win the Oh-pon Sunday, I would like to have a beer with you when you’re back in town.