Then, as in any
major tournament, the strain began to take its toll. Thomson missed a putt from
six feet at the 11th that would have all but eliminated Lema. When Thomson
missed a two-footer and bogeyed the 12th, the American had every right to sense
that his opponent was cracking. Lema, obviously aroused, got a birdie at the
13th, and Thomson's lead had dwindled back to one stroke. They parred the next
three holes, learned of De Vicenzo's scores up ahead and felt sure, going to
the 17th, or 71st, that the tournament belonged to one of them.
crowd, a television crew, the press and a corps of police moved in the vast
tide of excitement to the 17th tee, and a Lancashire policeman, helping control
the spectators, said to Thomson, "It's in the bag, I think." Peter put
his tongue between his teeth.
It was right here
that Tony finally missed a shot he could not afford. He hit his drive on 17
into the rough. He could not reach the par-5 hole in two, but Thomson did, to
make an easy birdie, while Lema had to settle for a par. He then caught a
bunker at the final hole, hit out dejectedly and three-putted for a 6 and a 74,
while Thomson got a birdie again, a tidy 71 and another British Open crown.
In the end the
most notable achievement by an American in the tournament had to be that of
Walter Danecki, a 43-year-old mail sorter from Milwaukee who played the
qualifying rounds in 108 and 113. He was frank enough about why he had entered:
he wanted to win some money. And he said he was certainly glad he had played
the small British ball. "If I had used the big one in this wind," he
said, "I might have been all over the place."
perhaps shocked by the fate of his famous clients—Palmer, Player, Nicklaus,
Devlin and Sanders—summed up the 1965 British Open best: "Sanders left the
tournament in a trap on the 10th, Nicklaus left it in the raspberries on the
37th, Palmer left it in the willow at the 59th, Devlin left it in a bunker at
the 60th, Lema left it in Chicago at the Western Open and Gary Player left it
in my bathtub. So Peter Thomson picked it up."