Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sandy Tatum: "Trip to South Bend ‘mystical’ for 1942 champion"

As Stanford returns to South Bend recently to win the NCAA Central Regional on its way to the upcoming national championship, Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune reflects on the Cardinal's 1942 national championship triumph at Notre Dame, led by individual champion Sandy Tatum.

May 23, 2010
South Bend Tribune Staff Writer
Here's a link to the full article.

Time may have taken his ability to hit a golf ball far and straight and with uncanny accuracy like he once did for so many years.

But when it comes to the most special day he may have ever spent on a golf course, Sandy Tatum remembers that time nearly a lifetime ago as if it was last month.

Memories of traveling halfway across the country — on money he raised — to win the 1942 NCAA men's golf national championship at South Bend Country Club remain strong.

"I can't think of any other subject on which I would rather converse," said the 89-year-old Tatum. "It was a mystical experience."

An experience that almost never unfolded.

With the United States involved in World War II, Stanford University officials were not sure they wanted to send the school's golf team to compete at the NCAA Championships. That didn't sit well with Tatum, then the school's No. 3 golfer and Pacific Coast Conference individual champion.

"When the school told us we couldn't go, I just couldn't bear it," he said.

Tatum learned the trip for the team would cost $2,500, and went about raising the funds himself. One of his first sales pitches was to the man who initially vetoed traveling to the tournament — university president Ray Lyman Wilbur.

"A wonderful character," Tatum said. "But he was a very stiff personality."

Tatum entered the president's office one afternoon, and proceeded to explain his business to a seemingly disinterested Wilbur. When Tatum stopped speaking, Wilbur quietly turned toward his desk, scribbled something out and handed it to Tatum, whose fund-raising campaign had been kick-started with a check for $25.

"He wished me good luck," Tatum said. "And I was on my way."

Tatum raised enough money for Stanford to get to South Bend. Just boarding the train in Oakland for the three-day trek east was memorable.

"It was just us, a group of college guys going across the country to play golf," Tatum said. "How lucky can you get?"

Tatum's luck would get better. Days later, he and his teammates had played well enough to earn a share of the team national championship with Louisiana State. Unbeknownst to Tatum, his game soon would fall into a groove that he had never before or since experienced.

He finished it off with a 5 and 4 victory over Northwestern's Manuel de la Torre for top individual honors among 64 golfers.

"It was stunning," he said. "I was not in a zone all week until then."
Here's a link to the full article.

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