If I learned anything during last week's U.S. Senior Open, where
I missed the cut by a country mile in my first official start on
the Senior tour, it is this: Police work is terrible training
for pro golf. All week people were telling me, "You've been
shot, so standing over a four-foot putt must seem like cake."
Well, trying to drain a putt produces a different kind of fear.
When you're fighting for your life, you just react, and there's
not much fear in that. In golf you can stare at the ball as long
as you like, and it's not going anywhere until you hit it. That
can be terrifying, especially with fans watching.
Before I turned pro, in 1996, and hit the minitours in hopes of
making the Senior tour, I spent 25 years with the Orlando Police
Department. I loved my work, but I was involved in two bad
shootouts. The first, in 1974, occurred while I was trying to
arrest a murder suspect. I had him pinned against my car, but he
elbowed me to the ground and grabbed my gun. He shot me twice
and ran away. Bleeding badly, I dragged myself to a phone,
called 911, and the fire department got me to the hospital just
in time. A few hours later the suspect was arrested. He was
convicted of first-degree murder and in 1986 was executed in the
The other incident happened in '76 on a robbery stakeout at a
gas station. The suspect came out of the station after having
robbed it, and my partner and I confronted him. After he shot at
my partner, I put nine pellets in his chest, killing him
instantly. I'll never forget the look on his face. I could hear
the bullets enter his chest, and then I heard the air coming out
of his lungs.
If I ever make it big, I'm going to be my own sponsor, because I
don't think any company would let me wear the golf shirt I've
got in mind: It has epaulets, the Orlando Police insignia over
my heart and a name tag on the other side of my chest.
Ferguson, 51, shot 78-86 to miss the cut by 14 strokes.
COLOR PHOTO: CRAIG JONES/ALLSPORT