The clich�s may have been bad, but the Player-Brewer match was fantastically good. It was a taut contest with no pleasantries exchanged. Player shot a four-under-par 70 in the morning round, but was three holes down to Brewer's almost flawless 67. However, he fought back in the afternoon, evened the match at the 30th hole and eventually won on the 39th, the third extra hole, in near-darkness.
After a quick, reluctant handshake the two golfers climbed into a waiting Daimler limousine and rode in elegant splendor and biting silence back to the clubhouse.
"I'll have to admit I was playing with an extra bit of determination today." Gary said later, "Gay has said some nasty things about me in the past, but I think Gay Brewer is a very great player." Parry, thrust and turn the other cheek.
The following day Player lost to Thomson, who had advanced by defeating this year's British Open winner, Roberto de Vicenzo, on the last hole of another good match.
Now Thomson was pitted in the final against the majestic, muscular, implacable figure of Arnold Palmer, who had played very solid golf in beating Canada's George Knudson and then Casper.
Palmer was inspired by the determination of the aggrieved—he epitomized, after all, the type of golfer that Thomson did not care for. "I like to beat anyone I'm playing, no matter who he is," said Arnold on the eve of the finals. "But I guess you could say that all U.S. players especially enjoy beating Peter."
"The Americans? Oh, I imagine they like to beat me," said Thomson in his turn. "But don't they like to beat everybody, even themselves?"
The match was even better than the one Brewer and Player produced. Palmer, bull-strong, extroverted, magnetic, presented a sharp contrast to his opponent, whose golf is crisp, neat and unemotional. But if the two felt personally antagonistic it was not obvious. Their manners were impeccable, and past differences were set aside as they attacked the golf course in a rain that sluiced down through most of the day.
Thomson, sinking some nice putts, held a three-hole lead as late as the 10th, but after the first 18, which each played in 70 shots, the two were all square, and after the first nine holes in the afternoon the match was still tied.
Then Palmer suddenly erupted with an explosion of distinguished golf. He floated a six-iron over the trees guarding the 190-yard 28th hole and holed the seven-foot putt he had left. One up. He hit a two-iron to the par-5, 480-yard 30th hole that bounded in four feet from the cup. Two up. He punched a nine-iron shot at the green of the 437-yard 31st hole that came off an embankment flanking the left side and rolled right to the cup. Three up.