Hardly anyone reads Damon Runyon and Ring Lardner anymore, but if the two were still alive—and if a city editor had assigned them to cover the 1992 PGA Championship in St. Louis—they probably would have made a big deal about the two babies, Gregory and Shynah. Runyon might have opened, "Even the meanest lug gets dewy-eyed...." And Lardner could have made much of the mysterious mommy with the bow in her hair who wheeled a baby carriage through the crowds at Bellerive Country Club, following a golf pro with flowing blond locks, a wraparound swing and a game on the skids.
Alas, in the current style of colorless sports prose, we are required to report only that Nick Price won by three shots in St. Louis. Runyon and Lardner could have gone to town with the story line. See, Price is the guy who dropped out of last year's PGA at Crooked Stick to be with his wife, Sue, for the birth of their first child, which allowed an unknown pro named John Daly to enter the field as the ninth, and last, alternate, etc., etc.
That child, Baby Gregory, spent Sunday with a sitter at a friend's house near Bellerive instead of at the course and therefore missed the chance to crawl onto the 18th green to congratulate his dad for winning his first major championship. "I didn't think this far ahead," confessed an almost frantic Sue, worried that her son will one day blame her if he and Daddy don't bond properly.
The 74th PGA was, in parts, Homeric, cathartic, sophomoric and aquatic. Not to mention Antarctic—sweaters in St. Louis in August? Bellerive's greens, apparently designed by Robert Trent Jones in his CinemaScope period, seemed wide enough for a cast of thousands, and at times it appeared as if thousands were in contention. Four players, in fact, tied for second, at three-under-par 281:
•Gene Sauers, a native of Savannah, who has won two PGA Tour events in an efficient nine-year career. Little is known of Sauers because little is revealed by Sauers. To wit: "The way I feel inside?" Long pause. "I don't know."
•Jim Gallagher Jr., the Greenwood, Miss., resident who was third at Crooked Stick. "What's your father's name?" a probing journalist asked him at Bellerive.
•John Cook, the Player of the Year candidate from Rancho Mirage, Calif., who is still weary from his British Open giveaway to Nick Faldo at Muirfield a month ago. "I don't dwell on it," said Cook. He admitted, though, that he thinks about it "a couple of times a day."
•Faldo, who closed out another brilliant effort in the four majors—in addition to his win at the British Open, he was fourth at the U.S. Open and 13th at the Masters.
"It's the guys who don't make mistakes who win," said Price, and that was certainly the case at Bellerive, which hadn't played host to a major championship since Gary Player won the U.S. Open there in 1965. Sauers, trying to become the first wire-to-wire winner of the PGA since Hal Sutton in 1983, reached a tournament-low eight under par on Sunday with a birdie on number 4, but he hit into the water on the par-3 6th and subsequently sank like a stone. Jeff Maggert, a graceful swinger who topped the Hogan Tour's money list in 1990, led by one shot with eight holes to go, but he gave back five strokes to finish sixth. Faldo fired a four-under-par 67 on Sunday, low round of the day, but it wasn't enough to overcome a mistake-strewn 76 on Saturday.
All of this left the 35-year-old Price alone to sort through the debris. "So many times in the major championships, I've made the mistakes," said Price, who counts two runner-up finishes at the British Open among his near-misses. This time a mistake by Price loomed just when victory was practically in his grasp. Leading Cook and Maggert by two shots with two holes to play on Sunday, Price left his third shot on the par-5 17th hole, from a greenside bunker, 30 feet short of the pin. He then ran his birdie putt past the hole and almost off the green. "I couldn't believe it was so quick," he said. "It was like putting on ice."