We stooped under the ropes at the 5th tee and awaited Arnold's entrance. He came in hitching up the pants and gazed down the fairway. Spotting us, he strolled over.
"Fancy seeing you here," he said with a touch of slyness.
Then he drank the rest of my Coke, smoked one of my cigarettes and failed to birdie the hole, a par-5. On the other hand he more than made up for it by sinking a curving 25-footer for a birdie at the par-3 6th. At the 7th he hit another splendid wedge to within six feet of the flag. He made the putt. And the cheers that followed told everybody on the golf course that Arnold Palmer had birdied six of the first seven holes.
It was history-book stuff. And yet for all of those heroics it was absolutely unreal to look up at a scoreboard out on the course and learn that Arnold Palmer still wasn't leading the Open. Some kid named Jack Nicklaus was. That beefy guy from Columbus paired with Hogan, playing two groups ahead of Palmer. The amateur. Out in 32. Five under now for the tournament.
Bob Drum sized up the scoreboard for everyone around him.
"The fat kid's five under, and the whole world's four under," he said.
That was true one minute and not true the next. By the whole world Drum meant Palmer, Hogan, Souchak, Boros, Fleck, Finsterwald, Barber, Cherry, etc. It was roughly 3:30 then, and for the next half hour it was impossible to know who was leading, coming on, falling back or what. Palmer further complicated things by taking a bogey at the 8th. He parred the 9th and was out in a stinging 30, live under on the round. But in harsh truth, as I suggested to Bob Drum at the time, he was still only three under for the tournament and two strokes off the pace of Nicklaus or Boros or Souchak—possibly all three. And God knows, I said, what Hogan, Fleck and Cherry were doing while we were there talking.
Fleck had put almost the same kind of torch to Cherry Hills' front nine holes that Palmer had. Fleck had birdied five of the first six, with a bogey included. He would wind up in what would look like a 200-way tie for third place at 283. Cherry, the other amateur in contention, was the last man with a chance. There was a moment in the press tent when everyone was talking about Palmer's victory, and somebody calculated that Don Cherry could shoot 33 on the back nine and win. Cherry was due to finish shortly after dark. He quickly made a couple of bogeys, however, and that was that. But meanwhile we were out on the course thinking about Palmer's chances in all of this when Drum made his big pronouncement of the day.
"My man's knocked 'em all out," he said. "They just haven't felt the shock waves yet."
History has settled for Bob Drum's analysis, and perhaps that is the truth of the matter after all. The story of the 1960 Open has been compressed into one sentence: Arnold Palmer birdied six of the first seven holes and won.