The whole thing came down to the 18th. The players were tied and Lehman teed off first, with a driver, even though his caddie made a face at it and suggested a three-wood. "I didn't like driver," said Andy Martinez, who has a major under his bib with Johnny Miller and should know these things. Lehman smoked it into that tiny driving area, which can't be more than 30 Shaq sneakers wide. The ball bounced the wrong way and trickled into a bunker right near the front lip, and as you looked at the ball, you just knew it had a week of sleepless nights written all over it.
Then Jones stepped up and hit driver too, and nobody made a face at all because he lasered it down the right side, over some bunkers and into the fairway. After Lehman laid up, Jones just stepped up and hardly waggled and nearly tore down the pin with a seven-iron so pure that even you would've liked it, not that you would've told anybody.
But get this: As Jones walked to the 18th green with his brother/caddie, Scott, he had no idea how the leader board stacked up. He was in that deep Hawk zone, like you always were. He had to ask, "How's it stand?"
"Lehman and Love are tied with you at two [under]," Scott said, which was wrong, of course.
Oh, great, that means I gotta make this, Jones thought. Jones did not want to come back for an 18-hole Monday playoff. His stomach could not handle that.
"Wait," Scott said. "Love is at one [under]! It's you and Lehman." Which meant Jones only had to two-putt from 14 feet because what were the odds Lehman was going to save par from 60 yards with the Open on the line? Lehman didn't, but Jones slid his first putt over the edge and left himself an 18-incher that must've looked like 18 miles.
Meanwhile, back in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Jones lives, there is this guy, Kevin Failoni, who was maybe the only guy on earth who wanted Jones to make that putt more than Jones himself. For five years Failoni has had to live with the thought that he ruined one of golf's most promising careers. He was the friend of Jones who hit the front brake on his dirt bike instead of the rear, flipped head over heels off his bike, causing Jones, who was behind him, to dump his own bike to avoid smashing his buddy. Failoni separated his shoulder, but Jones ripped his ankle, shoulder and left ring finger, and his career—he had three Tour wins in 1989 alone—looked to be over.
Standing in Scottsdale on Sunday, five years later, Failoni and his wife, Eleni, are another kind of wreck because her father died last Thursday and the Failonis are late for the wake. Kevin literally has his hand on the door, but he and Eleni can't leave until they see whether their friend makes that 18-inch putt and becomes the Open champ out of nowhere. Back in Michigan, Jones is looking at his wife, Bonnie, who's holding their five-year-old son, Cy, and saying over and over, "Cy can make this."
Above the green, Cy asks, "Can Daddy make this?" And Bonnie says, "Sure," and somehow Daddy wiggles it in on Father's Day for the best comeback story this side of you, Mr. Hogan.
So your reigning U.S. Open champion is a New Mexico-born simple guy who says he went 12 years between golf bets, hardly ever drinks and was the Colorado state sand-greens champion two years running. When he saw the plaque with your picture on it and then saw there was a plaque with no picture on it—just the words 1996 U.S. OPEN—and realized it was for him, he pretty near cried. "Hey," he whispered to Bonnie. "I got a piece of the rock!"