Golf: Pymans enjoy their relative success: Tim Glover reports from Augusta on how a father showed his gifted golfing son the way to tame a manicured menace

Click to follow
The Independent Online
DENNIS PYMAN found the temptation irresistible. He saw his son play the 12th, the notorious par three known as the Golden Bell, in haphazard fashion. He put down the bag and relieved Iain of his six-iron. Without the benefit of even a practice swing, Mr Pyman sent the ball arcing towards the narrow green, over the blue water and on to the manicured Bermuda grass. It came to rest 15 feet from the flag.

'Who's the player here?' a greenkeeper asked. Iain had put his first tee-shot short and on to the bank and his second attempt, hit more forcefully, went through the back. Dennis showed him how. He took two putts for his par three. 'That's it,' Pyman Snr said. 'I've played Augusta.' Dennis and a whole bakery of Pymans are here courtesy of Iain's victory in the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush last summer . . . and a generous gesture by Gary Player.

Player played with Pyman at the Open Championship at Royal St George's where, with Dennis's assistance, the Yorkshireman, then 20, won the silver medal as leading amateur. Not only that, his scores of 68, 72, 71, 70 - a one-over-par total - was the lowest four-round aggregate by an amateur in the 122-year history of the Open.

Pyman's dilemma for the Masters was whether to retain Dennis - he is 42 and has held a handicap of three from the age of 16 and together they have won the Yorkshire foursomes three times - as his caddie for Augusta National. Some people advised him to employ the expertise of a local caddie. Not Player. 'He's got flair and imagination,' the South African said. 'He doesn't need local knowledge. He has a great touch.'

Dennis, manager of a bank in Leeds, has bankrolled his son's amateur career. Player was so determined that the father-and-son partnership should not be broken that he paid for Dennis's air fare to come here. Whatever happens at Augusta National this will be the last time Dennis will carry Iain's bag. Next week Pyman will turn professional. 'It will be a wrench,' he said, 'but I know I've got to let dad go.'

Pyman, who was 21 last month, has shown he can live with the professionals. In addition to his performance in the Open he impressed in Australia earlier this year, finishing sixth in the New South Wales Open and 24th in the Australian Masters. From next week he will hope to survive on sponsors' invitations and already he has received the nod from Jack Nicklaus to play in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio.

His immediate ambition, though, is to play in all four rounds here. The last British amateur to do so was Peter McEvoy in 1978. He will not lack support. His entourage numbers 11 including family - his mother Barbara who took a job in a supermarket to help finance his golf education - and friends. The captains of the clubs that he is a member of, Sand Moor in Leeds and Scarborough North Cliff, will also be behind the ropes.

The players are entitled to a maximum of six tickets. Pyman wrote to the club and did an Oliver Twist. He asked for more and received nine tickets plus two clubhouse passes. He and his coach Peter Cowen, the pro at Lindrick GC, have spent a week at the Golf Club of Georgia in Atlanta where they also played Peachtree. What Peachtree and Augusta National have in common is that they are the only courses designed by Bobby Jones.

Last Wednesday, Pyman, who is staying at the Holiday Inn on the Bobby Jones Expressway in Augusta, played the course here for the first time. Only two other people, Anders Forsbrand and a member, were on the course. There were no spectators. Yesterday, Pyman played a practice round with Ian Woosnam and Peter Baker (today, he is booked to play with Nick Faldo) and the course was packed. On a glorious morning spectators, paying dollars 15 ( pounds 10) a head, were queueing before 8am for the opportunity to say they had walked around Augusta National and smelt the azaleas.

Dennis Pyman did a lot better than that. He played the Golden Bell and got his three. Pa for the course.

Comments