Top of the Morning, June 3, 2018

Top of the Morning, June 3, 2018

Carl Punkay had no idea he was golfing with one of the greatest athletes ever.

"It's good I didn't know," the 73-year-old from Champaign said. "If I'd known it was Bo Jackson, I would have been so nervous I probably couldn't have hit the ball."

In town as a guest speaker at a Busey function, Bo slipped out to Savoy last week and played the back nine of the UI Blue course. To cloak his celebrity status, he checked in as "Vincent" — his real first name — and joined Savoy regulars Punkay, Tom Martinand Dexter Patterson at No. 10. Only Patterson, who shared a cart with Bo, knew his true identity.

"He put his finger to his lips and went 'Shhh ...' " Patterson said. "I didn't tell anyone until after he left."Patterson's reward: Complimentary "Auburn" and "Heisman 85" golf balls (above) and plenty of stories to share at the 19th hole.

"I was proud of myself for not saying something like 'I'm your biggest fan' because he's one of my sports heroes," said Patterson, 61, of Urbana. "I kept it together and shot a 41 like I always do."

Bo joins a short list of rich and famous to play Savoy, one that includes Arnold Palmer in '63. At 55 and in good shape, the only two-sport All-Star (MLB, NFL) told Patterson he enjoyed the course's wide-open layout. "He sprays the ball like crazy," Patterson said, "but he sprays it a loooooong way."

While Patterson waited until the parking lot to spill the beans about his playing partner, Punkay's early read on "Vincent" was spot on.

"When I first saw him, I thought to myself, 'Whoever this guy is, he's pretty athletic,' " Punkay said. "Turns out he really was."

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):People