"I'm Capable of some good golf," declared Jim Albus last Saturday night as he sat on a bench in the players' locker room at Myrtle Beach's Dunes Golf and Beach Club. "And I'm capable of some bad golf." He shrugged.
Albus, 54, brings new depth to understatement and establishes a new low for low-key. Flamboyant for Albus is lightly touching the bill of his cap in acknowledgment of fan applause. "This is just the way I am," he says. "I used to be more emotional when good and bad things happened, but I found out that in both cases, it hurt me."
Heading into Sunday's final round of the Golf Magazine Senior Tour Championship, to which only the top 28 money-winners for the year are invited, Albus was 15 under par and six strokes ahead of the nearest competitor, Raymond Floyd. Even Floyd, grumpy all week because of putting woes and because he has not "had the year I expected," conceded after Saturday's round that it was "possible but not probable" that he-could catch Albus. "He's on fire," groused Floyd.
But even with a six-stroke lead, Albus was wary of Floyd. "He's going to come out like a caged lion," he predicted.
If only Floyd had been that tame. After just four holes Sunday he had chewed Albus's lead in half. And by the 10th hole they were even. "I wasn't surprised," said Albus, "when he caught me." But unbeknownst to anyone, the real fun hadn't even begun.
Albus, showing both his talent and his mettle, refused to fold up like a cheap paper fan. Said Floyd, marveling, "After I caught him, he started playing his best." Both birdied the 72nd and final hole—Albus had to make a difficult 15-foot putt—to end regulation play in a tie, 15 under par. Floyd had shot 66, Albus 72.
On the first sudden-death hole—the 385-yard par-4 18th, for the convenience of TV and the gallery—Floyd's tee shot found the left rough and Albus was in the driver's seat. But Floyd, ever the shotmaking genius, extricated himself with an approach to within 18 feet of the pin. Both got pars.
For the second sudden-death hole, the two were asked to play...what's that? The 18th again? That's right. For the convenience of television, they drove back to the 18th tee. Both got pars again. Back to the 18th tee.
The third time around Floyd drove way right into the rough, and then his approach went 50 feet past the pin. Albus hit within 12 feet. But both two-putted. Suggested an onlooker, "Why don't they just flip a coin?"
The fourth time off the tee on 18, Albus got in trouble in the right rough, and it was Floyd's turn to be in the driver's seat. But Albus hit his approach 20 feet from the pin, and both got pars.