It was one of the most remarkable shots in golfing history, and with it on Monday the young Oklahoman Bob Tway wrested the PGA Championship from the year's most remarkable golfer, Greg Norman. They had come to the 72nd and last tee on Toledo's Inverness Club course dead even at seven under par, Tway having stripped a four-stroke lead from the Australian in the previous eight holes. Norman, who had won his first major, the British Open, three weeks earlier, put his second shot on the 354-yard, par-4 hole in the fringe, 25 feet from the pin. Tway's second nestled in a bunker just short of the green. The green sloped away from him, and on this sunny day Inverness's greens were rattlesnake fast.
Tway swung. The ball floated softly, landed about a foot onto the putting surface and began rolling. When the ball—shades of Tom Watson at Pebble Beach in 1982—fell smack into the cup, Tway began jumping excitedly up and down. Those who had thought of him as a kind of golfing robot, wanting in emotional feeling, saw another Tway now.
Norman, who on Saturday chipped in from 60 feet to save par at the 13th, needed another miracle shot to force a playoff, but his chip raced 10 feet past the cup. He had let the Masters slip from his grasp, then the U.S. Open, and now, in a year in which, with luck, he might have had a Grand Slam—as it was, he led all four majors after three rounds for a Saturday Slam—the Great White Shark was harpooned again.
Tway, in tears at that electric moment, could scarcely talk, but his solid and improving game had spoken eloquently enough all year; he had won three tournaments before Inverness and now stood second on the money list with $600,005 to Norman's record $644,729.
Tway's wife, Tammie, was also emotional over the victory, as well she might have been, since she had seen the downside of his career from up close. At the 1983 Tour qualifying tournament on the TPC course in Ponte Vedra, Fla., she watched as her husband collapsed on the final day. He was 12th when the last of six rounds began. The top 50 would get cards. Tway shot 41-40 for 81, finishing with a double-bogey six at the 18th. He missed earning his card by one stroke.
Of that day Tammie has said, "There were tears, a lot of them. We went to bed at 7:30 that night and couldn't sleep. We couldn't eat the next day.
"For a while Bob was reliving that 81 every day. He went to Asia and was shooting in the 80's all the time. We had to borrow $3,000 from the bank. But he bought a video machine and every night he'd study his swing. He worked his little buns off." Tway qualified for the Tour the following year.
Until Monday, Norman had been just about the whole show at Inverness, taking command of the tournament with rounds on the par-71 course of 65, 68 and 69 before rain Sunday forced postponement of the final round until the next day. He had also taken command of the media—or they of him—giving so many interviews and posing for so many pictures that he said, "Is this a soap opera, or what?"
But Tway hadn't exactly been invisible. On Saturday he shot a course-record 64, following rounds of 72 and 70—this on a layout that had never yielded a subpar score for 72 holes in four U.S. Opens. It's a course with small, hard, bottle-cap greens and a forest of trees lurking off the fairways. "In this game you either get better or worse," Tway would say. "I learned down the road that you have to work hard." It paid off on the last nine Monday, for though Norman was opening the door with errant tee shots, Tway got into enough trouble himself to bring down a less determined or less skillful man. He saved par on both 15 and 17 with wedge shots of surgical accuracy, the latter from a lie so deep in the rough that TV cameras could hardly pick out the ball. "Talk about destiny," said Peter Jacobsen, a playing partner Monday. "Tway was dead on 15 and 17 and he didn't have much chance on 18. It was fantastic.
"The thing that stands out in my mind about Bob is his relaxed attitude around the course," Jacobsen went on. "I played with him at Westchester last year and he shot a 74 or 75, but he didn't get mad. I told him afterward, 'You're going to be a great player.' He just said, 'Thanks.' But I had the feeling he knew and didn't need me to tell him."