Chip Shots: Rich Roberts’s winning vision proved untrue

Inspiration On Call

A few nice days in Paris relaxing and reflecting on the Ryder Cup spanking the European Team put on Team USA with their 17/1/2 to 10/1/2 victory, at least I can say that any hangover I may have had was caused by bad memories unlike the hangover reportedly suffered by the Europeans as their celebration lasted into the wee hours of Monday morning.

In reflection and with a clear head, I realized it may be time for some desperate measures. Come on! We have not won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil since 1993. I give the PGA of America credit for trying but now might be the time to look to above to higher powers which I witnessed firsthand some years ago and has been filed deep in my memory bank since it happened.

The year was 1995 and it was Tour Championship week when it was played at Southern Hills Golf Club in Tulsa, OK. Tulsa is also the home of Oral Roberts University which was founded in 1965. In 1993, Rich Roberts, the son of Oral Roberts, took over as president.

A day before the ‘95 Tour Championship was to begin I had a meeting with Rich Roberts who, by the way, was a fine golfer with a two handicap. As the meeting ended, I asked Rich who he thought was going to win. He stated said with a voice of authority that Billy Mayfair would be the winner. I said, “Wait a minute. Didn’t you just play with Billy in the pro-am?” Rich confirmed that he played with Billy and even beat him by a shot. I was couldn’t understand how Rich Roberts could beat Billy Mayfair in the pro-am but then say that Billy would win the Tour Championship. It just didn’t add up. But then Rich Roberts cleared up the confusion. He said: “He had a vision the night before that Mayfair would indeed be
the winner.”

To be honest I didn’t give the Rich Roberts vision a second thought until after the opening round and Billy was leading. And then, on Sunday in the final round, I was assigned to cover Mayfair’s group doing play by play for Westwood One Radio, when Mayfair’s wife started walking with me. She was understandably nervous as Billy continued to maintain the lead. I told Billy’s wife not to worry, not to be nervous because Rich Roberts said that he had a vision and Billy Mayfair would be the winner. And the record shows that Billy Mayfair did indeed win the 1995 Tour Championship.

Fast forward with me a few years to the LA Open where I became friends with a huge Tiger Woods fan and a huge golf fan, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. After 72 holes in the tournament, there was a tie at the top with Billy Mayfair and Tiger Woods. I had told Ernie the story about Mayfair winning the Tour Championship and the Rich Roberts “vision.” As Tiger and Billy were getting ready to start the playoff, Ernie said to me, “Why don’t you get Rich on the phone and ask him who is going to win?” I said, “Good idea, Ernie. I’ll be right back.” I walked around the corner out of Ernie’s eyesight for a few minutes, and then returned to say, “Ernie, Rich Roberts said Billy Mayfair will win.” From the moment Billy defeated Tiger in that playoff, Ernie always called me “The Billy Mayfair Man.”

So, my idea for the US Ryder Cup team would be to hire Rich Roberts to be part of the 2022 team as that is the next time Team USA will have a chance to win on foreign soil as that Ryder Cup will be played in Italy.

Of course, that might not be as easy as it sounds. It seems that in 2007 Rich Roberts took a sudden leave of absence from Oral Roberts University due to a pending lawsuit filed by the University professors. A month later he resigned and hasn’t been heard from since.

So, unless Rich Roberts resurfaces or Ryder Cup USA comes up with some drastic changes, a new plan, or the players simply decide to go-all-in, be a team and play better, I guess I should be preparing for some more bad memories.

bobthevoiceofgolf@gmail.com