“The call that lost the cup” sent a wave of disappointment through Team 1998.
May 7, 2007
The Phi Alpha Cup has never been an event that lacked controversy. Add the 2007 Annual to that growing list. However, differing from the 2005 and 2006 Phi Alpha Cups, this controversy was self-contained within Team 1998 and raises questions about Team 1998’s chemistry for 2008 and beyond.
With the teams all square heading into Sunday’s Singles Matches, the 2007 Phi Alpha Cup was completely up for grabs. That was until a fateful cell phone call fielded by Jeff Eaton on the 15th hole during his pivotal match against Team 1997’s Chandler Willett gave full control of the match to Willett.
With Willett up 1 and both players putting for par, Eaton, in emergency-like fashion, darted from the putting surface at the chirp of his cell phone. Never one to lose contact from his wife for more than a few minutes at a time, Eaton fielded the call while the rest of the players putted out of turn in order to keep up the pace of play. Upon returning to the green, Eaton promptly and erratically 3-jacked his ball, giving Willett a 2-hole lead that he would never relinquish. The match proved to be the deciding point in the 2007 Phi Alpha Cup and handed Team 1997 the victory.
While teammates chastised Eaton for even having his cell phone on, Eaton defended the move with a myriad of excuses.
“Phil Mickelson carried a beeper in the Open when his wife was in labor. I don’t see any difference between that and what happened here… other than the fact that we were discussing whether cranberry or sage throw pillows would work better in the living room. Also, it could have been someone else like my mom or dad. That’s the thing with cell phones, you never know.”
Members of Team 1997 were more pragmatic. “It seems to me that having his cell phone turned off and not knowing if his wife had called or not would be more distracting than actually fielding the calls,” commented Willett. “If I was ’98’s captain, I’d outfit him with Bluetooth earpieces and video conference sunglasses which would allow him to keep her posted during his shots.”
Whatever adjustments Team 1998 makes for Eaton in 2008, just like Chris Webber’s timeout or the ground ball that dribbled under Bill Buckner’s glove, it won’t change the outcome of the 2007 Cup. But in this great sports rivalry filled with such hullabaloo year after year, it probably won’t be the Phi Alpha Cup’s last shocking moment.