Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First One off the Island - with No Regrets; Thore, Now a Teaching Pro, Remembers Shot in Detail

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First One off the Island - with No Regrets; Thore, Now a Teaching Pro, Remembers Shot in Detail

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

David Thore was in the first group to tee off at the 10th hole on the morning of March 18, 1982, when The Players Championship was held for the first time at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course.

As a result, he, Skeeter Heath and John Adams were the first group to arrive at the par-3 17th hole to take the first shots in competition at the Island Green, which was being roundly criticized and derided by many PGA Tour players that week as a gimmick hole.

Thore liked his numbers: 122 yards to the front, 140 yards to a back pin position, slightly right-center.

"In those days that was a good 8-iron for me," he said.

Thore placed a Titleist 3 on the tee and took a swing with the Spalding Top-Flite iron.

Splash. The ball went into the water, short of the green, right in front of the hole's only bunker and with that swing, Thore became the first of hundreds of PGA Tour players in the last 33 years to have found the water with their tee shots at the 17th hole.

But he's OK with it.

"I don't mind being known by that little bit of trivia," said the 61-year-old Thore, now a teaching professional at the Oleander Golf Center in Wilmington, N.C. "Every year when The Players comes on TV, I remind the guys at the club that I've got something from that tournament no one else will ever have."

Other than one brief interview after his round with a New York Times reporter, Thore said he's never been asked about the shot by anyone in the media. But earlier this week, when Golf Channel aired a replay of the 1982 Players as part of its "Golf's Greatest Rounds" series, it flashed what the network calls a "pop-up factoid" about Thore's dubious feat.

Thore didn't watch the replay and was unaware that Golf Channel had unearthed the factoid until a golf buddy texted him a screen-grab photo. A Golf Channel spokesman said the network's Editorial Research Unit found the original Times story on Thore when doing research for the airing of the 1982 Players.

"When it's come up in the past, I've usually been the one to tell people," said the member of two national championship teams at Wake Forest, along with PGA Tour winners Curtis Strange, Jay Haas and Bob Byman.

Thore has that golfer's habit of remembering bad shots in great detail. He said he remembered using a Titleist 3 because his caddie at the time got superstitious and after the shot wouldn't give him a ball with the same number.

Thore said none of the players were going to the drop area in that first Players after hitting tee shots into the water because the glassy greens and lack of course knowledge made them fearful that they would either blade a sand wedge shot across the green or have the ball spin back into the water.

His difficulties also didn't end with the tee shot. …

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