'Keep Himself topped off'

May 13, 2009

The New York Daily News' Hank Gola recounts the anecdote from Don Wade's book, "Talking on Tour," the '73 Ryder Cup when Christy O'Connor, whose nickname was Himself, was sent out for an afternoon match with Tom Weiskopf, despite having spent some time at the bar. Bernard Hunt, captain of the Great Britain/Ireland team, "had no fear that a few pops would take his man down. He also knew that, if the effects of O'Connor's libations wore off, he could 'lose his edge,'" Gola writes.

"Hunt pulled aside two of O'Connor's friends, including his priest, and gave them a critical assignment: 'keep Himself topped off.' The good Father and his accomplice were to meet Himself on every tee with a booster shot of sorts. When O'Connor shook hands with Weiskopf at the first tee, the American smelled O'Connor's breath and pulled Hunt aside to ask if his opponent had been drinking."

Hunt's response? "God, yes, and if we can keep him that way, you don't stand a chance."

O'Connor has been selected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Hall announced on Wednesday.

-- John Strege