Vinny Giles is my hero

photo

Vinny Giles hits a pitch during the quarterfinals of the USGA Senior Amateur.

Vinny Giles, the 2009 USGA Senior Amateur champion, is my hero.

I have known Giles for years. My assessment of his golf game: great ballstriker, lousy putter.

Now my admiration grows. The headlines say Giles made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to win the title. C’mon now, it must have been 18 inches.

At 66, Giles apparently has learned to putt. He also seems to have discovered the Fountain of Youth. The only Senior Amateur champions older than 66 were 67-year-old Bill Hyndman (1983) and 69-year-old Lew Oehmig (1985).

There is one more thing we should celebrate. Except for a controversial two-month suspension nearly 40 years ago, Giles has been a lifelong amateur. That suspension came after the 1970 Masters, where a Dunlop sales rep stuck six dozen golf balls in Giles’ locker without his knowledge. Giles gave the balls to his father and godfather, but the USGA punished him anyway.

Giles is a former U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champion. In a six-year span from 1967 through 1972, a period in which the U.S. Amateur was contested at stroke play, he finished out of the top three just once (he registered one victory, three seconds, one third and one sixth). He also was a four-time member of the U.S. Walker Cup team and a Walker Cup captain.

Like I said, my hero.

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