Missing the Cut

bythrillerauthor©

He hit a five iron on the next hole, a short par 3 over water, and almost made a hole in one as his ball bounced off the pin and stopped two inches from the cup. The roar from the gallery was electrifying when he tapped in for his fourth consecutive birdie, and there was a mad scramble for places around the fifth tee as Denny made his way through the crowd. He birdied five with a treacherous putt, and then the long, tough sixth hole after his 3 iron from the fairway rolled to within a foot of the pin. His 7 iron on the short seventh hole was dead on the stick, he birdied eight with a sidewinding putt that rimmed the cup before it dropped, and headed towards the clubhouse with a picture perfect drive on nine that set him up for an easy approach shot. By now, everybody on the golf course had gathered around the ninth green, and when Denny rolled in a ten foot putt for his ninth consecutive birdie, the roar could be heard by every golfer in the tournament.

Even Bertha had to shake his hand after his incredible performance, congratulating him profusely for having shattered the LPGA record for consecutive birdies, and for his nine-hole score of 27. Denny was still well down on the leader board, but you would never have known it from the mob that followed him to the tenth tee. He birdied ten and eleven, then crossed over Southern Boulevard for the next four holes, birdying them all. When he crossed the busy street again to tee off on sixteen, two policemen had to stop traffic for ten minutes to allow his gallery to make it across with him.

The sixteenth at Fairmount is the most difficult hole on the course, brutally long with a narrow fairway rimmed by hardwood trees. Denny used his driver, and split the fairway with a 270 yard drive, his longest of the day. When his 5 wood strayed slightly and rolled into a bunker guarding the tight green, a mournful groan went up from the gallery. But if Denny was concerned, it didn't show on his beautiful face. He had spent hours practicing getting out of the sand, and indeed he once told me that in tough situations he would sometimes aim for the bunkers rather than risk getting stuck in deep grass with a difficult chip. Still, when his sand wedge blasted his ball into the air and it dropped and rolled into the cup, he clenched his fist and pumped it twice, a trademark Denny Grimes gesture that nobody noticed at the time.

By now, the gallery was going crazy, the golf writers were delirious, and USA Network, which had the rights to the first two rounds of the tournament before CBS took over on the weekend, had broken into its regular programming. Denny's tee shot on seventeen was perfect, and he hit a long iron to the center of the green, a tricky undulating surface which had yielded the least number of birdie putts throughout the tournament. He took his time with it, this time tucking his skirt between his knees as he crouched down over his ball, and when he tapped his putt, the sound of cameras clicking was like an avalanche. His putt broke right, then left, then right again, stopping just short of the cup and hanging on the lip for a second before dropping in.

The crowd erupted. Even golfers who had already finished their rounds, including Annika Sorenstam and the other early leaders, pressed together with the spectators as Denny fought his way through the mass of humanity towards the eighteenth tee. Bertha was shell-shocked by now, and she stared open-mouthed as Denny gave his little waggle before sailing his drive straight down the middle of the fairway. The mob followed him as he walked towards his ball, and shouts and cries were heard when they realized that he had landed in the middle of an ugly divot. It was an impossible lie, and if there was any way the LPGA officials could have given Denny relief, they would have done so. He knew the rules as well as they did, and without batting an eye, he asked his caddy for his driver.

The caddy, who was holding on for dear life by this point, shook his head. "Are you sure?"

"Yep," Denny said sweetly. "I'll show you a little trick I learned the hard way." His caddy handed over the driver, and Denny took a few practice swings in a wide arc before addressing the ball. Ten thousand people crowding around him, and heaven knows how many more watching on television, held their collective breath as Denny blasted his driver behind the ball, exploding it out of the divot and sending it screaming towards the green.

The replays of that shot have been seen so many times, one almost tires of it now, but in the annals of golf there has never been a more amazing finish. Denny's ball landed short of the green, hopped twice before settling on the putting surface, and rolled to a neat stop four feet from the pin. Pandemonium ensued as the gallery following Denny raced to join those already clustered around the eighteenth green, and the marshals struggled in vain to restore some semblance of order. Denny disappeared into the milling throng, and when he finally emerged with a marshal on either arm, he looked slightly disheveled but remarkably calm. He took a moment to smooth down his skirt and tuck back a loose strand of blonde hair before taking his putter and walking across the green to the thunderous applause of the gallery.

Bertha was away, and the nation waited impatiently for her to make or miss her meaningless putt. Then Denny crouched down over his ball, knees pressed together, before he stood over it and caught his breath. Slowly, slowly, he took back his putter and tapped his ball. It rolled lazily along the path he had selected until it fell with a clunk into the waiting cup.

The gallery exploded as total strangers hugged and kissed one another, not believing what they had just witnessed. Denise Kamm, an unknown walk-on playing in her first professional tournament, had just shot a 54, making 18 consecutive birdies. In the storied history of golf, no one has ever come close to that achievement, nor would anything like it ever be seen again. The major networks broke into their regular programming to announce it as a special bulletin, the message board on Times Square flashed the news to startled New Yorkers, and the President of the United States asked an aide to try to get Denise Kamm on the phone.

When I caught up with Denny, he had been lifted onto the shoulders of his new fans, who were carrying him aloft like Lindbergh in Paris. He saw me, and struggled to get down, finally shouting something to the guys holding him up. Maybe he used his real voice, because they dropped him in a hurry. The cameras caught our embrace as we groped each other, the spectacle of two girls going at it not exactly what the tournament had in mind for the image of women's golf. Denny pulled me into the scorer's tent and planted a kiss on me.

"Denny, I'm so proud of you!" I cried as we came up for air. I felt his erection pressing against me through his skirt. "You're back!"

"I guess you didn't finish me after all," he said.

"Just long enough. You were wonderful!"

Denny Grimes had only one thing on his mind. "Did I make the cut?"

* * *

Yes, Denise Kamm did make the cut, by one stroke. Her composite score of two under par would have enabled her to play on Saturday and Sunday, if the LPGA had an ounce of sense.

When Denise Kamm was brought to the microphones for a hastily arranged press conference, she shocked the world with her opening remarks: "It's been great playing out here today. For those who don't recognize me, I'm Denny Grimes, and I'm going to Disneyland with my million dollars from the National Enquirer!" Absolute, total bedlam broke out, and Denny was hustled out of the clubhouse by security guards at the behest of outraged tournament officials.

It all worked out fine for Revlon, of course. The launch of their "Metamorphosis" cosmetics line broke all industry records, aided by a brilliant advertising campaign featuring Denny in before and after photos. And in a delicious bit of irony, USA Network replayed Denny's historic performance from start to finish during the same time slot as the CBS broadcast of the final round of the Revlon classic. USA Network scored the highest ratings for a sports event in the history of television, burying CBS alive.

As for Denny and me, let's just say that my husband is back to doing what he loves the best, playing professional golf for a living. Although I doubt if he's going to make any more bets that involve wearing a skirt, he still dresses up for me sometimes, just for fun. Denise Kamm makes occasional public appearances for Revlon when we need the money, and her gigs on Letterman and Leno were instant classics. I never did get around to writing that book, so this story will have to do.

From the author of "The Jessica Project"

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