"I learned something last week at the CVS Charity Classic," Faxon said. "I played with Gary Player, who is 65, and Billy Andrade played with Arnold Palmer, who is 70. You know who were the only two guys to hit balls after the round? Player and Palmer." Asked why he thought the two legends continued to work so hard at an age when most men suck their teeth for exercise, Faxon shrugged and said, "Why did Larry Bird dive after balls? They want to be great; they always want to do their best."
Faxon sounded as if he was ready to buy into the saw that "age is only a state of mind," but you couldn't blame him, not last week. Forty was fashionable again. Copper bracelets and long putters were au courant, and the only teens making noise were Liverpool youngsters begging for the autographs of graybeards.
Forty was exciting, too. In the next-to-last pairing on Sunday, Woosnam smacked his ball to within six inches on the par-3 1st hole and tapped in for an apparent share of the lead. Minutes later he hurled a driver off the 2nd tee, having discovered that he had a 15th club in his bag and thus two penalty strokes on his scorecard. "I never shook it off," he said afterward, but the little pub brawler fought back with an eagle and three birdies and finished in a six-way tie for third at 278. Langer also wound up at 278, though his 71 was more of a bore than a battle. No one noticed him until he strolled onto the final green with less urgency than a Blackpool sunbather.
The happiest of the bunch? That would be Smyth, who earned an exemption into next year's Open by shooting 71 for a share of 13th place. "I can still play!" he said in disbelief. "I'm thrilled with my week. I didn't think I'd get this again, to be honest."
By "this" he meant the charge, the buzz, the high that accompanies a better-than-expected performance in a major. Price didn't get that buzz this time—he submitted a weary 73 on Sunday and finished 21st—and neither did Faxon, whose check for �10,629 ($15,199) probably didn't even cover expenses for him and Dory, his wife of nearly a year. Faxon, though, had to be heartened by the play of the over-40s at the 130th Open Championship. When the time comes for him to blow out his own 40 candles, he could use what his peers had in abundance at Royal Lytham: a second wind.