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One of golf's greatest moments recaptured

June 06, 2008|John Scheibe | Special to The Times

In a prelude to next week's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and also to Father's Day, HBO offers the worthwhile "Back Nine at Cherry Hills: The Legends of the 1960 U.S. Open."

The hourlong documentary, which premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m., uses historic archival film footage and insightful commentary to tell the story of a generational showdown between aging lion Ben Hogan, sleek and athletic Arnold Palmer and young, baby-faced Jack Nicklaus in the final round at Cherry Hills Country Club outside Denver.

The underlying theme of the documentary is how the lives of all three men were influenced by the relationships with their fathers.

In Hogan's case, tragic, as he witnessed Chester Hogan's suicide attempt in their Dublin, Texas, home. Hogan's father died the next day.

Palmer describes Deacon Palmer, a Latrobe, Pa., country club groundskeeper, as "dominant . . . but caring."

And Nicklaus, the happiest of the three, referring to his father, Charlie, as his best friend while growing up in Columbus, Ohio.

The film is bolstered by observations from former Sports Illustrated writer Dan Jenkins, who covered the 1960 U.S. Open; golf historian James Dodson; biographer Curt Sampson; sportswriter Kaye Kessler, and family members and friends of the three golfers.

"On that afternoon, in the span of 18 holes, we witnessed the arrival of Nicklaus, the coronation of Palmer and the end of Hogan," says Jenkins.

The story is written by Mary Carillo, narrated by Liev Schreiber and produced by Margaret Grossi. Carillo's words end the film with an indelible summation:

"Three men, of three different pasts, in three distinctly different stages of life, had played a round of golf for the ages. Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus left Cherry Hills as changed men, and the history of golf changed with them."

Available for viewing this weekend:

Basketball, NBA Finals (Sunday, 6 p.m., Channel 7). The Lakers play the Celtics in Game 2 at Boston. The NBA reports that the series will be televised to 205 countries and territories in 46 languages. The Lakers have five international players on their roster and Spain has sent 27 media members to cover Pau Gasol's first appearance in the Finals.

Horse Racing, the 140th Belmont Stakes (Saturday, 2 p.m., Channel 7). New York in June, Big Apple, Big Brown. It has been 30 years since Affirmed galloped into history and it's about Triple Crown time for a new champion. The 2-5 favorite leads a 10-horse field to the post at 3:28 p.m. Joe Tessitore and Brent Musburger are the hosts from Belmont Park. Sirius Satellite Radio also will broadcast the race, beginning with a pre-race program at 2 p.m.

Baseball, Chicago Cubs at Dodgers (Tonight, 7:40 p.m., Prime; Saturday, 12:45 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday, 5 p.m. ESPN). The Dodgers continue a four-game series with the Central Division's streaking first-place Cubbies, who swept L.A. last week at Wrigley Field.

Baseball, Angels at Oakland A's (Tonight, 7 p.m., FSNW; Saturday, 6 p.m., Channel 13; Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 13). The Angels will try to maintain their lead in the American League West before coming home for three games against one of the better young teams in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tennis, the French Open (Today, 10 a.m., Channel 4; Saturday, 6 a.m., Channel 4; Sunday, 6 a.m., Channel 4). The fortnight in the City of Light concludes with the delayed broadcast of the men's singles semifinals today, followed by the women's singles final on Saturday and the men's singles final Sunday.

Boxing (Saturday, 7 p.m., HBO). From the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., come two championship bouts. In the first fight, WBO junior-featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon (that's his given name) of Huntington Park meets Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico, the top-ranked, undefeated contender. Then, Kelly Pavlik of Youngstown, Ohio, defends his middleweight title against Gary Lockett of Wales. Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Emanuel Steward will be at ringside.

Auto Racing (Sunday, 11 a.m., TNT). The NASCAR Sprint Cup series moves from Fox to TNT for the first of six summertime races, starting with the Pocono 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Bill Weber will call the race, with analysis from Wally Dallenbach and Kyle Petty.

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