The scoreboard read:
MIKE SOUCHAK 68-67-73-208
JULIUS BOROS 73-69-68-210
DOW FINSTERWALD 71-69-70-210
JERRY BARBER 69-71-70-210
BEN HOGAN 75-67-69-211
JACK NICKLAUS 71-71-69-211
JACK FLECK 70-70-72-212
JOHNNY POTT 75-68-69-212
DON CHERRY 70-71-71-212
GARY PLAYER 70-72-71-213
SAM SNEAD 72-69-73-214
BILLY CASPER 71-70-73-214
DUTCH HARRISON 74-70-70-214
BOB SHAVE 72-71-71-214
ARNOLD PALMER 72-71-72-215
Right up until the last hole of the first 18 on Saturday, this Open had belonged exclusively to Mike Souchak, a long-hitting, highly popular pro who seldom allowed his career to get in the way of a social engagement. His blazing total of 135 after 36 holes was an Open record. And as he stood on the 18th tee of Saturday's morning round, he needed only a par 4 for a 71 and a four-stroke lead.
Then came an incident that gave everyone a foreboding about the afternoon. On Souchak's backswing, a camera clicked loudly. Souchak's drive soared out of bounds, and he took a double-bogey 6 for a 73. He never really recovered from the jolt. While the lead would remain his well into the afternoon—long after Arnold had begun his sprint—you could see Souchak painfully allowing the tournament to slip away from him. He was headed for the slow death of a finishing 75 and another near miss, like the one he had experienced the previous year in the Open at Winged Foot.
Much has been written about Arnold Palmer in the locker room at Cherry Hills between rounds on Open Saturday. It has become a part of golfing lore. As it happened, I was there, one of four people with Arnold. Two of the others were golfers—Ken Venturi and Bob Rosburg, who were even further out of the tournament than Palmer—and the fourth was Bob Drum, a writer then with the Pittsburgh Press. It was a position that allowed Drum to enjoy the same close relationship with Palmer that The Atlanta Journal's O.B. Keeler once had with Bobby Jones.
It was too hot to believe that you could actually see snowcaps on the Rockies on the skyline. As Palmer, Venturi and Rosburg sat in the locker room, there was no talk at all of who might win, only of how short and inviting the course was playing, of how Mike Souchak, with the start he had, would probably shoot 269 if the tournament were a Pensacola Classic instead of the Open.
Arnold was cursing the first hole at Cherry Hills, a 346-yard par-4 with an elevated tee. Three times he had just missed driving the green. As he left to join Paul Harney for their 1:42 starting time on the final 18, the thing on his mind was trying to drive that green. It would be his one Cherry Hills accomplishment.
"If I drive the green and get a birdie or an eagle, I might shoot 65," Palmer said. "What'll that do?"
Drum said, "Nothing. You're too far back."
"It would give me 280," Palmer said. "Doesn't 280 always win the Open?"