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Original Issue

Near Miss

Jacky Cupit held his own against a pair of future Hall of Famers at the '63 U.S. Open, until disaster struck on the penultimate hole

Here's a good one for your next bar bet: Who beat Arnold Palmer by three strokes in an 18-hole playoff at the 1963 U.S. Open at the venerable Country Club in Brookline, Mass.? Answer: Jacky Cupit. Granted, your reward is likely to be a firm push out the door. The '63 Open champion was Julius Boros, whose playoff score of 70 was not three but six shots better than Palmer's. Hardly anyone remembers Cupit, the 25-year-old Texan who filled out the threesome. "I was young and green, so I was glad to be in that playoff," says Cupit, now 67 and head pro at the Links at Land's End in Yantis, Texas. "But I was kind of mad at myself too--for what happened before it."

Cupit led Boros by two and Palmer by one with three holes to go, but when Cupit got to the 17th tee he didn't know that Palmer had missed a two-footer for par on 16. "It's 20-20 hindsight," Cupit says, "but had I known, I'd have hit a three-iron." Instead he belted a three-wood and watched in dismay as his ball skipped through a bunker and into six-inch rough on the steep embankment of the trap. He hacked back to the fairway and then three-putted for a double-bogey 6. To this day Cupit wonders if his life might have gone differently if he'd won. He retired from tournament golf at 37, shunning even recreational play until he was old enough to qualify for the Senior tour. --John Garrity




Because of high winds, a nine-over 293 got Cupit (above in '63 and today in Texas) into a playoff.



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