But then Thomson, still looking cool and unperturbed, began to play some very hot golf himself. A birdie and an eagle cut Palmer's margin to one going into the 34th hole, where Thomson hit an iron stiff to the pin. But Palmer followed Thomson's approach with an eight-iron 15 feet short of the hole, and then hit a birdie putt that ran up the green to the left of the cup, started swinging to the right and toppled in on its very last turn.
That last turn proved to be the coup de gr�ce. They halved the 35th and, when Thomson hooked into the rough on the 495-yard finishing hole and failed to reach the green in two shots, the match was over. In winning, Palmer had scored 12 birdies and an eagle, while Thomson—almost as remarkably—had made 11 birdies and an eagle. It was championship golf.
The moment the match ended, Thomson walked over and shook Palmer's hand. It was obvious that what had begun as almost a bloodletting had ended in something very near to a mutual admiration society.
"Arnold isn't flogging at the ball the way he used to," Thomson said. "I was beaten by a better man."
The better man was impressed, too. "It was one of the best matches I've ever been in," said Palmer. "Peter played such excellent golf I really enjoyed the whole thing."
No parry, no thrust. Just a lot of sincere respect.