Former Husker Eric Crouch lifted his left foot off the ground and pulled the driver back with just his right hand, hovering over the golf ball he hoped to squib off the tee so horridly that he'd earn a victory in Wednesday's skills competition.
Little did Crouch realize that his pre-shot stance all too closely resembled that iconic one-footed stiff arm associated with college football's most prestigious award.
“Oh, that's the Heisman pose,” U.S. Senior Open golfer Fred Funk said just after Crouch had dribbled his trick shot wildly to the left. “How often do you practice that in front of the mirror?”
The crowd roared.
The shot was all in-the-moment instincts, Crouch insisted afterward.
He doesn't claim to be a natural golfer, which is why the former Heisman Trophy winner said swinging in front of about 1,500 fans at the Omaha Country Club driving range Wednesday was perhaps as nerve-racking as anything he's ever done. Especially on that last one, when he was told to take a full swing — but hit as short a shot as possible.
Funk made it look easy, hardly altering his form yet still barely clipping the ball and rolling it a couple of dozen feet forward. Crouch went unconventional, but it worked.
His intentional mishit won the best-of-three competition for him and teammate Hale Irwin, a Senior Open participant. Crouch said before the event that he was just hoping to keep pace with former Chadron State football star and current San Diego Charger Danny Woodhead, who was paired with Funk for the challenge.
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“Never practiced that one before,” Crouch said. “You try to do something exciting for the fans and the people out here. I thought I was going to hit it further, actually.”
Not bad for someone a tad bit out of his element. Walking up to the range, Crouch overheard a fan saying he couldn't wait to see the Nebraska legend look like an idiot. Crouch's name was misspelled (missing the “r”) on a sign promoting the event.
At one point, Irwin even gave Crouch a tip: Stand over the golf ball as if he were receiving a snap.
Crouch enjoyed himself through it all.
“It was a good time,” he said. “You can't beat that you're out in your hometown, enjoying a wonderful event.”
For Woodhead, distance proved to be his specialty Wednesday. He smashed one to win second challenge in the event: longest drive.
During a brief warmup session, Woodhead drew oohs and ahhs from the fans as they watched him plop multiple shots on to a green about 140 yards away. He said he plays two or three times a week during the offseason.
“I hit it better than I expected,” Woodhead said. “Obviously, that's not my expertise. But if I'm going to go hit a round, I think I did OK.”
Irwin wasn't surprised. He was a two-time first-team All-Big Eight cornerback at Colorado in 1965 and 1966. Athleticism translates, no matter the sport, he said.
“They know how to make their bodies work,” Irwin said. “They understand how the body is supposed to be in motion. The golf swing's one of the hardest things to do, but they made it look pretty easy.”