HOWARD WARD: Doug Sanders Still 'Peacock Of the Fairway'
Back off, Ian Poulter. Your two-tone lavender pants can't hold a light to Doug Sanders.
Get a clue, Sergio Garcia. Color coordination was invented by Doug Sanders.
Doug Sanders came to Pinehurst last week, and the whole village lit up. The man is a walking neon sign. But as bright as his dress is, his personality is just as shining.
Nobody ever accused Doug Sanders of being a wallflower. He was Mr. Cool when it was cool to be cool. He took a page from PGA Tour showman Jimmy Demaret and added a chapter.
Mr. Sanders came to town on a semi-business trip and turned it into a social highlight. The man has that way about him.
Doug Sanders is 73 years old and looks and acts a decade younger.
The hair is totally white now, but on him it looks good. It just gives him another dash of charisma.
When Sanders comes onto the scene the mood changes. People smile more. And everyone listens because they know what they hear is not only going to be good stuff, it's going to be entertaining.
"I didn't realize what a family it is here in North Carolina," he said Monday after participating in the annual Buck Adams Memorial Pro-Am at CCNC. "It used to be like this on the Tour.
"It seems everybody here knows everybody. Nobody is asking, 'How big is your airplane?' It's hard to find any place nicer."
Sanders, who won his last of 20 PGA Tour events at the Kemper Open in Charlotte, has homes in Houston, Tex., and Palm Springs, Calif. But he sounds tempted to move to the Sandhills.
"If I could find the right situation, I would move here," he said. "But I don't make promises, I make commitments. It's just that there are times in your life when you need to make a change."
Sanders set the standard for resplendent dress during his time on the Tour. One of the highlights at any tournament he was playing was seeing what color outfit he would show up in each day.
"Somebody nicknamed me the 'Peacock of the Fairway,'" he said, smiling. "I even have that logo on my underwear."
He wasn't kidding. He proved it.
Sanders wrote a book several years ago titled "Come Swing With Me." He's writing another now that begins with his missing the 30-inch putt to win the 1970 British Open.
"I've done so many things and been so many places," he said. "But I'm also trying to give a little back. I enjoy visiting military hospitals and cheering up our guys who are giving their lives for the country."
Sanders, who was being hosted by Pinehurst's Ambassador of Goodwill, Tom Stewart, was a member of the 1967 Ryder Cup team, and he has some strong opinions as to why the U.S. team is struggling against the Europeans.
"I don't think the U.S. players stick together the way they should," he said. "They don't seem to have the motivation. I really thought that Tom Lehman would change that this year and get them together for a week.
"They did try some bonding things -- making a trip to the K Club together -- but you have to prepare a lot sooner. Our team is just a bunch of individuals.
"Ben Hogan was our captain and he told us up front, 'Ben Hogan does not want his name associated with a loser.' He said, 'Gentlemen, I've never seen a team this good.' We had that desire to go out and kick butt.
"Coming in from your match and telling Hogan that you had lost was one of the worst things you could do. We had so much desire to play for the U.S. that we would have paid to play."
Actually, Sanders was somewhat subdued in dress Monday.
He was wearing a white shirt with splashes of purple and black with black trousers.
"I only brought 19 pairs of shoes with me on this trip," he said, "because I'm only going to be here for a couple of weeks."
Tune in here next week for more on the colorful Sanders. You can't do this guy justice in 700 words.
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