Moise walked on to the golf team at LSU in 1966 yet ended up captaining the squad for two years. He was a third-team All-America in 1969, his junior year, when he won the Southeastern Conference tournament. After graduating with a business degree, Moise turned pro and intended to play on Tour but repeatedly failed to get through Q school. He lived in New Orleans for a few years, then moved to Houston, married Susan Monsour, whom he had met in college, and got into oil-field sales almost by accident. "I didn't know much about the business, but I could play golf, and that was a big part of it," Moise says. "If you could play, you could sell the stuff—safety valves and gas-lift valves and drilling gear."
In 1985, during a downturn in the oil business, Moise switched jobs, joining the PGA Tour as a rules official. Vaughn and Susan still live in Houston with their 18-year-old son, Alan, who's headed to Auburn in the fall, and daughter Emily, 16, who's a junior in high school. Moise is on the road 28 weeks a year working tournaments, but he's home the other 24. When he's home, he plays or practices pretty much every day.
"Until the last couple of months, he really was not playing very well," says Ken Stockton, a past president of the Houston Golf Association and one of Moise's frequent playing partners. "He was afraid that he was getting old and had lost it in terms of being competitive. Then he went out at Deerwood [Moise's home course and the setting for the U.S. Open scenes in Tin Cup] and shot an easy 64. He followed that with a 68 and was like, O.K., I haven't lost it. The last time I played with him, Vaughn hit into a bunker on the 1st hole. When he got to the green, he marked his ball and the next thing we hear is, 'Son of a bitch, I hit the wrong damn ball!' You don't think we gave him grief over that?"
Moise, a reinstated amateur, has teed it up on occasion with Tour players and is good friends with Steve Elkington, a fellow Houstonian who gives this scouting report: "Vaughn has a strong grip, grinds on his game, putts out everything and, if he doesn't play well, will have enough Budweisers afterward to make it O.K. I'd love to see him make the Open."
Moise last played in a national championship in 1994, at the U.S. Amateur. He made it to match play and faced Tiger Woods in the first round. Moise was one down and had the honor at the 17th hole, but rinsed his eight-iron shot while Woods hit the green, won 2 and 1, and went on to win the first of his three straight Amateur titles.
If Moise does make it to Bethpage, he'd better stay on his toes. The Tour officials who'll be working the Open say (good-naturedly) that they're itching to nail him with a slow-play penalty. "They won't catch me," Moise says, grinning. "I've learned how to play bad fast."
The clock watchers have no chance. Like Moise, they're dreaming.