By Alex Myers
Verne Lundquist, the man behind two of the most famous calls in golf history, also announces other big sporting events. Who knew?
The longtime sports broadcaster is in the limelight more than ever for being the main voice behind the legendary finish in Auburn's upset over top-ranked Alabama in last Saturday's "Iron Bowl." In the immediate aftermath, Lundquist didn't put the game on the same level as being a part of CBS' coverage of Jack Nicklaus' win at the 1986 Masters ("Yes Sir!"), but in a Monday interview with Newsday's Neil Best, he changed his mind:
"For 27 years, having experienced [Jack] Nicklaus winning at Augusta in '86, I have been consistent and I've always said that that was the single greatest sporting event I've ever seen.
"This one is right up there equal to it. And that takes into consideration a lot of different events that I've been lucky enough to be a part of. From start to finish, especially the finish, this was an extraordinary afternoon and evening."
In case you missed that finish, here it is:
But before this instant classic, there was plenty to love about Verne. Here's our list:
1. "Yes Sir!": Is there a golfer alive who hasn't imitated this call at least once? Lundquist's simple, but perfect call of Nicklaus draining a birdie on No. 17 to take the lead at the 1986 Masters is part of tournament lore. Fast forward to the 5:45 mark to hear Verne, though, let's be honest, you'll probably wind up watching all nine-plus minutes of this recap of that magical day:
2. "In your LIFE, have you seen anything like that?!": Lundquist's other signature Masters moment came in 2005 when Tiger Woods holed an unlikely pitch on No. 16 in the final round. This is probably the most-watched golf highlight of all time, and no, Verne, we haven't seen anything like it:
4. His spirit: Watch this and tell us you wouldn't want to party with this guy:
5. His acting: OK, so his role playing himself in the movie, "Happy Gilmore," was relatively straightforward, even amid Adam Sandler's wacky antics. But c'mon, he was in "Happy Gilmore!"
And another from "Happy Gilmore," featuring, well, containing Verne. We're sure you won't mind:
6. His name: Apparently, his full name is Merton Laverne Lundquist, but how fun is saying "Verne"?! Verne! Great name. On second thought, Merton isn't so bad either. . . Merton!
7. His longevity: Merton, sorry, Verne, has been at this for a long time. A half century, in fact. That's impressive enough, but even more amazing is that he's done what he's done that long without people getting tired of his act -- probably because his passion for sports never feels like an act. Here's a quick retrospective on his career that CBS ran during a college football broadcast earlier this year:
When it cuts back to Lundquist in the booth, he says "Ohhh, I loved when I had hair," and then, "How do you get from 'Bowling For Dollars,' to the Masters?" Great question, Verne. We have no clue, but we're glad you made it.