Calcavecchia took first by himself minutes later when Stadler skulled a sand shot from a rotten lie at 16 and then missed a five-footer for par. Calcavecchia nearly joined him but made a gritty nine-footer to save par on 15. He saved par again on 16 with a 10-footer.
Lyle had steadied himself and was playing flawlessly again. His tee shot at 16 nearly knocked over the flag, and he drained the 15-footer to tie Calcavecchia for the lead again. Five times he pumped his fist in the air in decidedly un-Lyle-like fashion. "I felt relieved," he would say later. "And I just thought, 'I've gone this far, why stop now?' "
Why, indeed? Stadler had barely missed a 20-footer on 18 for a birdie, which would have given him a share of the lead. Only Calcavecchia was left. He made another five-footer for par on 17 and saved par again on 18 with a chip that ended up tantalizingly close to the hole. Off to the Jones cabin to get ready for either 1) a playoff or 2) an acceptance speech, because Lyle had just hit his one-iron into the bunker.
Only all of a sudden Lyle was out of the bunker and looking at that 10-foot downhill putt and a win. No problem. Lyle stroked the ball as if he were rolling it to a manhole. You could hear the cup rattle in Atlanta as the ball hit bottom. "My knees were knocking a bit," Lyle said. "But that putt was the straightest I'd had all day."
"That hurt," said Calcavecchia. "I didn't think he had any chance of making birdie. I was numb for about five minutes." Still, Calcavecchia, 27, the former fat caddie with a new wife and a few new aerobics tapes, proved that he can play the big gigs. "All this will do is improve my game," he said.
As for Lyle, he showed that all the experts may be only half right. Yes, the foreigners are the best players, but maybe we're not looking at the right foreigners. "He's got to be playing better than anybody in the world," said Calcavecchia. Better than Norman? Better than Ballesteros? Yes. "Well, I think I'm catching them," Lyle said.
Maybe Huurman had it right all along. Earlier in the week she had occasionally sneaked away from her man's struggles to read a book beneath a dogwood tree. "She doesn't know much about golf," Lyle said. Then again, maybe she does. The book was called Angels All Over Town.