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Posted April 5, 2010, 12:00 am
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Sarazen had to chase woman from his room

Golf fans know the legend of Gene Sarazen's famous 1935 double eagle, which helped him win the second Masters Tournament.

What most don't know is that Sarazen began that contest with a major distraction. He awoke early on the Thursday morning of the tournament's opening round to find a strange woman in his hotel bedroom.

The April 7, 1935, edition of The Augusta Chronicle reported the incident somewhat lightheartedly on its front page -- "Gene's Club Is Handy."

"There has been many a time when a good recovery shot or a well-directed putt has helped Gene Sarazen out of trouble," the newspaper said, "but until the early hours of Thursday morning the famous golfer has never been called upon to use his driver for this purpose."

According to the Chronicle account, Sarazen awoke when he heard a noise, saw he wasn't alone in the room, then realized the person standing at the foot of his bed was a woman.

Startled, he grabbed a driver from his golf bag and chased the mystery miss from his room, down the hall and toward a stairway, before letting her get away.

When reporters asked why he stopped, "Sarazen grinned and replied that he suddenly realized that he was not properly attired to pursue the intruder in the hotel corridors," The Chronicle reported.

We might allow ourselves a smirk or a chuckle as to just what was going on. But that might be the problem of applying the standards of professional athletes of today with those of 75 years ago.

Two other accounts of Sara-zen's mysterious visitor seem to give one of golf's all-time most popular players a bit more understanding.

In Don Wade's book And Then Tiger Told the Shark , the time of the visit -- 4 a.m. -- is mentioned, along with the explanation to the reader that, "It's not what you think."

The woman was a hotel thief, Wade wrote, "after Sarazen's wallet."

In another book, The Masters: A Hole by Hole History of America's Golf Classic , author David Sowell describes the woman as simply a mistaken intruder, entering the wrong room and calling Sarazen by another man's name.

Regardless, the incident did not seem to shake Sarazen. He went out that Thursday and scored 68. On Sunday, he struck his "shot heard 'round the world" on No. 15, and by Monday a playoff victory made him Masters champion.

His visitor remains a mystery.