Q: "What did you think your chances were then, Nicky?"
A: "Bad and awful."
Not exactly true. On Thursday, Nicklaus said, prophetically, "Opens aren't usually won, they're usually lost." And that's what Strange almost did over the next two holes.
With the Bostonians whooping it up for Strange as though he had recently come out against Jack Nicholson, Strange hit an A-1 drive on 17—it was 30 yards longer than Faldo's—and then a perfect nine-iron above the cup, within 12 feet. The problem was, all 12 feet were dead downhill on the slickest rug on the course. "I thought up there was perfect," Strange said on the practice tee later. "I hadn't been up there yet." Strange tapped his ball as delicately as a diamond cutter working on the uptown bus. "I really wish I could get upset at myself for [how I played] 17," he said later. "But I honestly can't. I was trying to two-putt the son of a gun." The ball slid five feet past the hole, and when Strange couldn't make the come-backer, he and Faldo were tied again.
Somehow, amid the mayhem, both players parred the 18th—Faldo from, natch, the middle of the fairway. Strange from the left-side rough and the front bunker. Still, two fours. Both six under. Same time tomorrow, then?
Neither man had ever been in an 18-hole playoff before. Faldo liked the idea. "I don't agree with sudden death for a major because you battle for 72 holes—four days—and all of a sudden it's decided in 15 minutes," he said. "It's a little bit too severe."
And you, Curtis?
Strange paused a second and then said, "I'll tell you tomorrow afternoon. I don't know."
We think we know.