Actually, what happened in sudden death at Olympic's Lake Course salvaged what had been a tournament high on perks but low on drama. Although the Tour Championship was in part designed as a season-ending stage to settle honors like Player of the Year and the money title, those baubles had been essentially put out of reach by Price. His four regular Tour victories, along with the British Open and PGA championships, added up to the most dominant year by a player since Watson won seven times in 1980. So it was easy to see the tournament more as a year-end bonus with no 36-hole cut and a last-place payout of $48,000.
It was no surprise that Price arrived at Olympic mentally tuckered out, a condition reflected in his tie for 20th, 10 strokes back. But even Norman, who with a first or second could have won the money title to go along with the Vardon Trophy he earned with a record scoring average of 68.81, suffered from ennui. Although he sprang for more than $18,000 in bar tabs (paid for by hole-in-one insurance) after scoring an ace on Saturday and added levity by wearing a horrific Halloween mask on the 72nd hole, the Shark couldn't get out of the doldrums and finished 13th.
Both McCumber and Zoeller have been through the grinding schedules that take the zest out of the game, and in their remaining years near the top they are determined to play only when they are fresh.
"Mark and I are getting older, so we appreciate the game a little bit more," said Zoeller. "We have more fun with it. The old fire is still there. I think I can still beat these guys."
"I know I am as excited as I was when I started on the Tour," said McCumber. "The pay isn't bad, but I never thought of the pay for a second. I played the game and fell in love with the game when it had nothing to do with money."
Judging by the results at Olympic, they should be taken at their word.