The Burial and Resurrection (maybe) of Doug Sanders

For 14 years, Doug Sanders ran Houston's most celebrity-filled golf tournament. Then he was accused of sticking his hand in the till. Now he wants to come back.

Doug Sanders is angry. Well, actually, Doug Sanders is furious. The legendary professional golfer, a man who has been part of Houston's celebrity scene for decades, a well-known schmoozer with anyone who might be considered part of the high and mighty, a man known for the care he takes with his personal and public image, a man, in short, whose whole persona is built on being in control -- this man is losing it. The veins in his neck are bulging. His head is twitching so hard that he has to clamp his teeth on his shirt collar just to keep still.

"There was no fraud out there!" Sanders explodes. His ire is directed at a television set. A taped image of Wayne Dolcefino, reporter for Channel 13/ KTRK, has been talking about how the Doug Sanders Kingwood Celebrity Classic, a golf tournament that for 14 years brought stars from Hollywood, politics and business to Houston in order to raise money for various charities, in fact raised money primarily for Doug Sanders. The allegations, which were originally aired in February, didn't exactly lead to a media feeding frenzy. Actually, most of the Houston media let the charges slide. But Dolcefino's pursuit was enough. It started a few rocks moving, and that has led to an avalanche that Sanders fears may have buried him and his career. Now he's trying to dig his way out and get back on top again.

"The reason I'm doing this interview is to get rid of the sack of crap that I'm carrying around," Sanders says, his head continuing to twitch. In the bedroom of his Memorial-area home, behind a closed door that obscures his emotions from a visiting grandchild, the once-proud 62-year-old Sanders is nearing a breakdown. He winces when Dolcefino alleges that "Sanders" -- not charity -- "was the biggest money winner."

Sanders gazes out of a bedroom window. As a heavy May downpour drenches the atrium that he wants to convert into a Doug Sanders memorabilia museum, the allegations continue: that Sanders did not pay his staff's salaries; that he failed to honor his contract; that his scholarship program was in truth responsible for very few scholarships; that "printing errors" falsely represented, by over $100,000, the actual amount his Classic donated to charity; that his celebrity "friends" were being put up at fancy local hotels, free of charge.

As the TV issues charges that the $240,000 salary Sanders took for running his golf tournament was inappropriate, the tears pour down his face. "I'm burning my ass up, using up the best years of my life," he says. "I should have been paid." Sanders is now clutching his neck. Since Dolcefino's report aired, he can't keep his head still. It's a sad irony for a man regarded in golf circles as "The Peacock," who as a player was best known for his zesty wardrobe, his legions of female followers, and for missing a 30-inch putt that cost him the 1970 British Open.

But because he can no longer keep his head still and down, Sanders' truncated swing has lost all its suppleness. He is currently ranked last in money earnings on the Senior PGA Tour. And because of the cloud of controversy that now surrounds his tournament, Sanders has been forced to step down as director, and his name will be removed from the tournament banner.

"I was stuck one time for $280,000 out of my own pocket," he says. "I never got one quarter. Not one fucking quarter. I paid all my expenses for all those years. And pardon me for being angry. I am fucking angry." Sanders clutches his throat with one hand, his chest with the other. His ruddy complexion has turned a violent shade of purple. But he refuses to quit for the day.

"I didn't want to get up a lot of the times and go to Australia or Singapore or Europe. But dammit, I owed something back. And it was my turn to pay back. How in the hell could I look in the mirror at night?" Sanders' face is now lobster-red, but still he refuses to stop. He's hoping for the penultimate frustration blowout, after which he'll finally be able to let all his anger out and move on in life.

"Every time I got on airplanes, every time I went someplace," he continues, "I was selling a spot to the pro-am. This [expose] was wrong. This was making Doug Sanders look like a damned person that lies, and I did not do that. You'll never know in your life what this has done to me."

Sanders finally asks that we stop. He throws himself upon his king-sized bed, where he lies still, clutching his neck and his heart. His gaze shifts from the expose that's on pause in the VCR ,to his grandson's empty crib, to the soggy atrium.

He shuts his eyes to his pain.
Life hasn't always been this way for Doug Sanders. In fact, it's rarely been this way. Most Houstonians know Sanders as the chipper hanger-on to the stars who, since 1981, has welcomed celebrities to his tournament at the Deerwood Club in Kingwood.

Sanders' tournament was a showcase weekend for Houston. It was the one time each year when Hollywood's brightest stars and Las Vegas' big-name performers flew into town. In exchange for a future "favor" from Sanders -- maybe free accommodations at a luxurious hotel or a gift of Waterford crystal -- each would play in the Classic's pro-am, or perform at a tournament banquet, or sign an item for the tournament's auction. Sanders' event was never a major fan draw -- attendance at the 15th- annual Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic last March was estimated at only 7,000 (by comparison, the PGA's Houston Open, held in April, drew over 120,000) -- but it did lure celebrities.

In theory, Sanders' Celebrity Classic benefited a host of charities, including Sanders' International Junior Golf (IJG). But in truth, the tournament was Sanders' way of mixing with the stars he met during his rise to golfing prominence during the late '50s and early '60s.

"You gotta pay tribute where tribute is due," Sanders says, sitting at a bar in one of his home's many living rooms. He points to a wall covered with photos, mainly of him and various famous faces. "These people don't let the little things bother them. Go down the line -- they're all there. From the Eisenhowers to the Gleasons to the George Straits to the Willie Nelsons to the Dean Martins to the Clint Eastwoods." His voice is rising to an excited crescendo. "You don't make friends like this overnight. These people know you. They've lived with you. They've broken bread with you. They've stayed in your house. And you've stayed in their house."

A maid interrupts Sanders' diatribe. She serves coffee, muffins, honeydew melon and orange juice. Sanders opens a cabinet next to his black marble fireplace. Inside are dozens of photo albums, each containing even more pictures. On one page he and Gene Kelly are fishing for Nile perch in Africa (their efforts were documented on an episode of American Sportsman). Turn the page and Sanders is at an archaeological dig, holding two human skulls. Then he's near the equator with Bob Hope, he's drinking bloody marys with Sammy Davis Jr., he's on The Dating Game with Dick Clark and Jack Kelly. ("What would you say if we were to have a perfect evening?" a contestant asked Sanders. He replied, "Good morning, honey." And she said, "I don't think I'm gonna mess with you.")

In their heyday, Sanders and his wife, Scotty, were two of Houston's biggest socialites. "We used to entertain every minute," says Scotty. "It was party time all the time." As we stroll through his house, a smiling Doug Sanders agrees. "The parties we used to throw here, the stories that have been told...." He shows off an air-conditioned wine room (the bottles are classified by both vineyard and year, and Sanders readily plays a which-celebrity-likes-which-wine trivia contest), his tennis court (together with five friends, he would take on, to no avail, John Newcombe), and a walking machine (presented to him by the president of Indonesia).

Sanders can't remember all the people who have spent time in the guest house in his back yard. "Once we had to get Ed McMahon out at one so that Oral Roberts could be in at three," he says. When Simon Koones visited, the artist took down three of his original paintings that hung on the wall in one bedroom and hand-signed each.

But Sanders is most excitable when it comes to his Celebrity Classic -- when he's telling of how it grew from a simple gathering of his "friends" into a couple of rounds of golf and then into a major stop on the senior PGA tour.

"George Bush was the first president to ever play in a senior PGA event," says Sanders. "It was a Doug Sanders event." He smiles, then winks. "And for the first time in history, an acting president and vice president played in a tournament together." He points at a picture of Bush and Dan Quayle, standing together with Sanders. He winks again. The photo is signed by both Bush and Quayle, and there's some unintended irony in the former vice president's message: "Doug, You Put on a Great Show."

Indeed, just how much of Sanders' tournament was for show, and how much for the charities it claimed to be benefiting, is the issue that has brought Doug Sanders such grief. Ostensibly, proceeds from the Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic were to benefit IJG, Sanders' charity. In the tournament's 1994 program, IJG's purpose is clearly stated: "To provide young men with a head start in life -- through golf." Through the IJG, Sanders pools kids from 45 countries and hosts a series of preliminary golf tournaments. The top two finalists from each prelim advance to a championship tournament in Aberdeen, Scotland. The unquestioned impact Sanders' IJG has on his young golfers is exposure: college coaches frequent his tournaments in search of standouts who might use the scholarships they have to offer.

"College coaches give the kids a look," says Hugh Conser, IJG's current chairman. "If they do well, it shows that they can play well under pressure. And that's what these coaches are looking for."

Sanders says repeatedly that IJG is his way of paying something back to the golfing world that has provided him with a luxurious lifestyle. "Whatever I've given," he says, "I don't think it's been enough." Sanders grew up poor in Georgia. To help his family pay the bills he picked cotton. He was a self-taught golfer -- he remembers walking to and from the courses in shoes with flapping soles. He grimaces when remembering the outhouses he once used.

"I had a burning desire, a killer instinct, a will to win," he says. He also was very lucky. His big break came at the Junior National Championship in 1953. After playing "36 holes a day for six days," Sanders was the only survivor. Soon after his victory, Sanders accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Florida. (His victory also inspired a 30-minute movie -- The Boy Next Door -- that brought the young Sanders some attention.)

After spending three years at UF -- "I did everything but study," he says -- Sanders won the 1956 Canadian Open while he was still an amateur. In his 38-year professional career, Sanders would never win an event bigger than the Canadian. Still, despite never claiming a major tournament title, Sanders logged more total victories than all but six golfers in the history of the sport. "Doug Sanders was an excellent fairway wood player," says longtime Golf Digest editor Chris Hodenfield. "One of the best I've ever seen."

Sanders was extremely popular on the tour, and not just for his stellar play. Women adored his all-American good looks and his perfect smile. In an era when golf was a sport of boring fashion conformity, fans would go out to the golf course to catch what outlandish, but tasteful, outfit Sanders was modeling. For his stylish wardrobe, which was laid out each day by a personal valet/cook/chauffeur, Sports Illustrated dubbed him a "pop artist's dream." He never wore a pair of golf gloves more than once, and he designed a golf bag with a changeable pocket so that his bag and pants could always match.

"Life is a party for me," he says, "and I like to look my best for it. Besides, I play better that way." Sanders lived for the PGA lifestyle. During rounds he often signed visors and kissed admirers. Off the links, he was much the same way. He loved to party and meet people, especially famous people. At his inaugural Tournament of Players Championship -- which he qualified for with his win at the 1956 Canadian -- he had his first brush with stardom. "The Buddy Hacketts, the Perry Comos," says a smiling Sanders. "They were there to participate in the shows."

Sanders was hooked. "I saw a guy the other day," he says. Sanders flashes his perfect smile and winks every time he talks about a celebrity friend. "Bumped almost head-on into Kirk Douglas. Gosh damn. Kirk Douglas! The man's man. And he said, 'Hi! Doug! I'm Kirk Douglas.' For him to call me Doug, boy, I was just so flattered."

Despite Sanders' talk about helping his kids and returning something to the sport that did so much for him, it appears obvious now that a major reason he began his Celebrity Classic in 1981 was to keep in touch with the stars he loved to rub up against. During the tournament's first decade, Doug and Scotty Sanders hustled as hard and as fast as they could to make sure the event ran smoothly. Scotty originally ran IJG's books, and to help cut costs, she took a job with Pan Am Airlines. The airline's employee benefits allowed her and Doug to fly to the IJG preliminary tournaments for free.

"We never paid a dime for those tickets," she says. "And we never charged anything. [Pan Am] flew the kids from Australia to Asia to India. Everywhere. I gave up 11 years of my life to get that."

Doug Sanders took care of the glamour aspects -- making sure the celebrities were taken care of, and that the shows and auctions were always successes. Describing what sort of businessman he is, Sanders says, "I have an alligator mouth that outruns my canary ass. But creativity, [that] I am. Who could have gotten the things I've gotten out at my tournament? You don't do that sitting on your ass, big boy."

Sanders was always able to pull the show together. He supported himself in the first years of the Classic by playing on the Senior PGA Tour. He also employed a "scratch your back" bartering style of business. Professional golfers who are past their playing prime are in high demand in the business community. Many companies engage in a practice commonly called "corporate outings," at which executives can play a round of golf with a touring professional. Of course, fantasy golf has its price. An outing with Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus, for instance, can cost upwards of $75,000. When he was still competitive on the Senior PGA Tour, Doug Sanders commanded $15,000 to $25,000 for each outing.

But instead of taking money for his games, Sanders would often work out a future benefit for IJG and his Classic. He struck a deal with MCI, for example, whereby in exchange for one corporate outing -- Sanders took a couple of bigwigs on a round at Augusta National -- he wouldn't have to pay for long-distance calls. The same was true for Pan Am when it was in business. In exchange for a few corporate outings with Sanders, the airline flew participants in his junior tournaments around the world for free.

"Doug was wild and crazy. Get this done, get that done," says Scotty Sanders. "He did all the flamboyant stuff. Somehow everything would just fall into place."

Or so it seemed. In the last few years, the Classic lost money, and in January 1993, its board of directors ordered an internal audit. The subject was the financial losses, and the audit report detailed several areas of concern within the charity. The expenses were disproportionately higher than the revenues raised for charity, the report read, and "the IRS may allege that an unrelated trade or business activity is being carried on." (Sanders indeed operated several businesses out of the tournament's office, including a company called Fairway Productions.)

In addition, the report stated that "the active participation of both Mr. & Mrs. Sanders as members of the Board of Directors and officers creates an appearance of control and self-interest. It may be appropriate for Ms. Sanders to resign as a Board Member...."

It was after the report came back, says Sanders, that the PGA began serious efforts to get him to take his name off his Classic and put the name of a corporate sponsor up there instead. "[Then PGA commissioner] Deane Beman called me up on the telephone," Sanders remembers. "He says, 'Doug, I can't make you, but I want you to take your name off the tournament.' "

Beman failed to return phone calls from the Press. However, when asked earlier about shifting the emphasis from Sanders to a corporation, Ric Clarson, Senior PGA director of administration, remarked, "This tournament has always been produced with an emphasis on the celebrity end. The tournament needs year-round attention and stability."

Late last February, Sanders apparently took the hint. He held a press conference and announced that the Doug Sanders Kingwood Celebrity Classic would no longer have "Doug Sanders" as part of its name, and that the search for a corporate sponsor was under way. Several insiders close to the tournament insist that Beman mandated the change. But Sanders insists that he wasn't forced out.

"That's a bad term -- 'step down.' It's a negative piece of crap as far as I'm concerned," he says. "I decided in order for the tournament to get bigger, the only way for it to raise more money was for it to get a sponsor.

"I had no problem taking my name off the tournament, if I could've found a title sponsor. If this shit hadn't come up, I wouldn't have had a problem."

This shit," of course, was the Dolcefino series detailing how Sanders' charity tournament wasn't truly about charity, and how the IJG scholarship program wasn't truly about scholarships. To this day Sanders claims he is innocent of any graft that occurred in his tournament. But according to Dolcefino, the Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic is a criminal situation, should the IRS pursue it.

The main alleged illegality lies in Sanders' contract with his tournament. In 1991, the tournament's board of directors -- which then included Sanders and his wife -- unanimously approved a $20,000-a-month salary for Sanders. The contract mandated that out of that money Sanders was to pay his expenses as well as the salaries of the tournament's employees.

But Dolcefino charged that Sanders never wrote personal checks to cover his employees' salaries. "Bullshit," Sanders says when pressed about that claim. "I never wrote any of the checks." A review of the tournament's files, though, shows that claim to be not completely accurate. Sanders did indeed sign some tournament checks, and never forgot to sign his monthly paycheck.

Under his contract, Sanders bore a financial responsibility if the tournament lost money, as it did for each of the last three years. "The real contract called for him to get a third of the revenues of the tournament," says former Classic director Rod Kelley. "But he had to turn around and use those revenues to pay for the staff and all the overhead items. If there was anything left over, then Doug got it."

Kelley estimates that if Sanders had managed the money properly, he could have pulled down at least $75,000, if not $125,000, for his work on the Classic. But Sanders apparently failed to comply with his contract. Dolcefino reported that Sanders owed $110,000 to the tournament (he has since paid the money back) and that he misbilled the tournament for over $51,000 in additional expenses.

Sanders disagrees with the image of him plundering his own tournament. "If I misused any of the funds, that's besides the point," he says with either astonishing candor or astonishing naivete. "You can pick on any little bitty thing. Do you wipe your mouth this way or that way?" Sanders contends that his $240,000 annual salary was easily justifiable -- he was the one, after all, who took no paycheck from the tournament during its first ten years, a period in which he estimates that his annual compensation from the Classic was $34,650.

In the early '80s -- when, because of rainouts, the tournament also lost money -- Sanders claims he paid for the losses out of his own pocket. "That was almost the end," he says, once again clutching his neck. Sanders doesn't like to talk about money. Other people's salaries, he says, are immaterial. "My secretary called me up and said [the tournament is] $50,000 short. I'd call the bank and say send the 50. She'd call back in three weeks and say we're another 50 short. I gotta call the bank and borrow the 50. The board never paid one quarter. I was stuck out of my own pocket."

But while Sanders declines to accept any of the blame for his tournament's problems, he's more than willing to accept the glamour and the glory. And he refuses to acknowledge his tournament's shortcomings. When asked about the IJG's claim -- false, as it turns out -- that it provided college athletic scholarships, Sanders responds that it was "a printing error."

"Doug had been telling people that he gave out a lot of scholarships," says Kelley, the former tournament director. "Only in recent times had the board of International [Junior] Golf even considered giving away scholarships."

"I just made a blanket statement one day about helping maybe a hundred kids go to school," says Sanders. "It should have been 'assistance' or 'made available' or 'gave 'em exposure.' It's a wrong term -- I'll go with that." The IJG does provide money for an academic-loan fund set up with the State of Georgia, and a memo from the Georgia Student Finance Commission states: "We are forwarding a check in the amount of $282,250.98 to the Doug Sanders International Jr. Golf Inc.... The funds have provided financial assistance to over 75 students." Still, "financial assistance" is quite a bit different from scholarships.

Then there was the question of the ceremonial oversized check, made out to the United Negro College Fund, that was presented by Sanders and ex-Oilers quarterback Warren Moon at a tournament banquet. The figure on the check said $185,000, but according to Dolcefino's report, that was about $100,000 too generous; Sanders' tournament actually contributed only $78,250.

"Doug Sanders is a very interesting guy who should not deal with money and should not be in charity," says Dolcefino. "We gave him a break. A big break." On the final day of his expose, Dolcefino touched on a police complaint filed by a teenage ball girl after a Senior PGA tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan in July 1991. The police report detailed how Sanders "kept patting his hand on her knee" and "asked her numerous questions about her sex life" and "offered her food that was already bitten into." And on the 14th hole, said the report, "Doug rubbed her upper thigh and started fondling ... [the] apron that was around her waist." After the incident, Sanders took some time off from the tour. He refuses to admit that he was suspended by the PGA, which in turn refuses to discuss disciplinary actions against its members.

"Doug has always been the lady's man," says Kelley. "That's no secret. I think he has a sex addiction, so he's constantly hustling women."

Dolcefino agrees. He claims that on the days preceding Dolcefino's story, he received numerous phone calls from prostitutes around Houston, all worried that they'd be included in the reports.

When I ask Sanders, at our first meeting, for the names and numbers of some of his closest friends, he responds with a wink. "You mean my hookers?"

When asked about how he ran his celebrity tournament, Sanders recalls a line Frank Sinatra offered during a stay at the Sanders residence. "Doug," the entertainer told Sanders, "we both did it our way." It's a mantra that Sanders lives by. In 14 years as director of his tournament, he refused to back down or relinquish any control. His primary business motif was simple: always cater to the celebrities.

According to Kelley, the allegation that hit Sanders the hardest was that he was taking care of his celebrity friends instead of his charity. "He's a master of favor-getting and favor-receiving," says Kelley, referring to allegations that Doug and Scotty Sanders gave Waterford crystal to their celebrity friends and put the costs of the celebrities' hotel stays on the charity's tab.

"Hey, we buy nice things for people all the time," Sanders responds. "And if Frank Sinatra comes to town and Frank Sinatra wants a room, well, would you ask questions? I paid for the rooms."

"You have to spend money to make money, especially when you're dealing with celebrities," explains Scotty Sanders. "You can't bring them in coach and feed them dog food. You have to take care of them."

In Sanders' mind, simply by bringing his friends to Houston he has done a wealth of good. The fact that his tournament's books were a mess is, to his mind, inconsequential. And though Sanders insists, "I can't be responsible for everyone," nothing at the classic happened without his knowledge and input. People who challenged his authority quickly found themselves out of the picture. Such was the case with Kelley, whose reign as tournament director lasted only six months. Sanders fired him on the Monday of tournament week.

"Doug and I got into such a huge kind of battle all the time," says Kelley. "It got to the point where it wasn't a job anymore. It was a crisis. He thought I was trying to run the tournament and trying to run the staff. Those weren't my objectives at all."

Kelley, who is involved in corporate-turnaround work, was hired to right the sinking tournament. In his opinion, the real problem with the Sanders Classic was its board -- an organization that consisted of "good old boys and friends of Doug." He claims they had no concept of their charitable responsibilities. "The first thing I did when I got on the board was to bring in a book from the American Bar Association [Guidelines for Directors of Non-Profit Corporations]. And I told them, 'You guys need to read this book and when you get through throwing up all over yourselves, you need to start getting serious about running this charity.' "

Unfortunately, the board never got serious, and one result is that the future of Sanders' tournament is in limbo. Sanders says he and the board are in a legal dispute over some of his expenses -- he claims to have received only two paychecks in the last eight months. "I'm a working man. I've given up a month of my life for the last 16 years," he says. "The board never told me to pay any money back. They owe me some money."

"Hey, I'm not painting a sad story," he adds. "I'm not broke. I don't owe a quarter. But dammit, it just hurts me that a guy tries to get a couple of extra ratings points by putting a man's life at stake. I'm not a villain. I'm a golfer who has made his living doing something else. Whatever they say, I helped a lot of kids along the way."

Wayne Dolcefino is still on VCR pause when a ringing phone awakens Doug Sanders from his pain-induced trance. He perks up when he hears the voice on the other end -- it's Andy Williams, one of his oldest "friends." Within seconds The Peacock has returned to his normal colors. "Hello, Andy... I've been fine, thank you.... I'm on my way in a few days to California to dedicate a golf course...." Sanders is no longer grabbing his neck; his cardiac arrest is long forgotten. He's back in his element, schmoozing with a celebrity friend, conjuring up the good old days, still selling the tournament to which he dedicated a decade and a half of his life but no longer can work for. "Thanks so much for your generosity and support.... To walk down a fairway with two living presidents.... I was so honored."

After hanging up, Sanders' thoughts turn, as they always seem to do, toward the death of his Classic. "Do you know what this has cost the city of Houston in millions of dollars?" he asks. The question is rhetorical because, in part, it's immaterial, in Sanders' opinion, to talk about monetary wealth and, in part, because Sanders himself doesn't have the faintest clue. "I don't know," he answers, "but the city of San Antonio says its [tournament] is worth $12 million. Mine has been here for 14 years. Add that up."

I ask him where the IJG's money is, if it's not currently being used for scholarships. What follows is another dose of entrepreneurial naivete. "It's in a fucking savings account," he says. "Shit yeah. How much we got in there today I don't know. Fucking $600,000 or $700,000."

Sanders' attention is diverted. He points out a white golf bag -- it's been signed by every living president as well as by the late Richard Nixon, who penned his name less than two weeks before his death. Sanders then pans over his wall of pictures again, landing on a snapshot of him and Willie Nelson. He starts another story. "If only the world had more Willies. We drank beer, told stories. I can understand Willie because Willie is a lot like me. A flair about him. His pigtails are part of him. Like my bright clothes or my lavender undershorts and socks."

Sanders recently started attended Alcoholics Anonymous. He says he has stopped drinking. He also attends Bible school every week and goes to church twice on Sundays. He and Scotty have pulled out of the Houston social scene -- they're more interested in helping out needy children at a local mission, several of whom often stay at the house, and who are quite close to the couple.

Sanders believes that golf's future lies in three-hole driving ranges. He's planning to buy some land for that purpose. He also remains under contract to the IJG and will continue to host the organization's series of tournaments around the world.

But Sanders' biggest scheme is revitalizing his lost child, his injured tournament. That's made clear one day recently out at one of his golfing homes, the Westwood Country Club. Sanders is dressed in azure golf splendor, his shirt personalized with his tournament's name in flowery script, an extra-proud peacock roosting above his left nipple. Though everybody else appears to be sweating profusely on this hot Houston day, Sanders is barely moist, his perspiration discreet, almost dainty.

Stepping up to a tee, he begins to knock some balls down a fairway. Despite his neck tick, one ball follows another in a straight line, each flying true some 225 yards. It's an impressive display, and a display obviously meant to impress, just as the calls he keeps taking on his portable phone are meant to be heard. He drops names, and numbers, loudly. As he flips the phone on and off, Sanders talks a steady stream about his comatose Classic. "I'll get Clint Eastwood for the next tournament, and we'll name it for Clint and we'll give away some dough and Charley Pride will come to sing and it'll be bigger than ever," he says, and slaps a few more pistol shots toward a faraway green. "All I need is 12 corporate sponsors at $200,000 each, and I've already got one.... And for the next tournament we won't have no damn interference from no damn board and it'll be like the old days."

As he leaves the tee, Sanders spots another golfer. He angles his golf cart over toward him so he can ask a few questions about corporations or people who might be able to come up with some funding for a Sanders-inspired golf tournament. When the man indicates that, yes, he might know of some possibilities, Sanders looks at him intently and intones a simple phrase: "Cash is king."

The golfer looks startled for a moment, and then responds, "You got that right."

Sanders nods, and then, like he's reciting a new truth from his own private bible, says again, "Cash is king."

It may be just a product of the difference between the days -- the afternoon of his anguish was rainy and overcast, today is clear with a blazing sun -- or it may be just the product of the passage of time. But for Sanders, it's a strange turnaround from how he appeared just a few days before, when after re-watching the Dolcefino tapes he could barely keep himself alert and his eyes dry of tears. Then, it seemed as if his pain would never go away.

Now, it appears as if the pain never existed.

Steve Satterwhite contributed research to this story.

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