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OLD SARGE COOLS IT
Dan Jenkins
June 23, 1969
As all the other contenders wilted around him, Orville Moody, a former Army sergeant with a cross-handed putting style, managed to survive a broiling Texas sun and a treacherous course to win the U.S. Open
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June 23, 1969

Old Sarge Cools It

As all the other contenders wilted around him, Orville Moody, a former Army sergeant with a cross-handed putting style, managed to survive a broiling Texas sun and a treacherous course to win the U.S. Open

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At that moment, Rosburg was tied with Moody, who was back on the 15th. Also at that moment in the locker room a lot of the veterans were sprawled out on the carpet, watching television and cheering for Rosburg. A lot of Mike Souchaks and the like who were Rossy's contemporaries. Rosburg is an in-group man from the old establishment, a club pro now, and he hadn't played this well in years.

The locker-room boys got Rosburg through the 16th, roaring in a tough three-footer for a par. They got him out of the bunker on 17 to within 10 feet of the pin, and they got that one down for a par. Rosburg had looked over the putt and looked up at the sky and smiled in his cynical way. You could almost hear him saying, "The National Open, right? And into the grain. Thanks a lot." But he jammed it in. One more par and he'd have his 281 and the sergeant might have to reenlist again. Sadly, Rosburg just didn't have it. He dragged his tee shot to the left and caught a limb, the ball falling in the rough. His second, a pretty risky four-wood out of the thick Bermuda, was a good shot but it spurted too far to the right and he was bunkered. Then, as the locker room roared, Rosburg exploded out marvelously again to within four feet of the hole. "He'll get it," Souchak said, bowing his head, afraid he wouldn't.

Rosburg has always hit it quick, a jab putter, and he didn't want to give himself time to think about this putt for the U.S. Open that he may never come close to winning again. He struck the ball a trifle too lightly and it hung at the edge. The locker-room ceiling fell in. No one said anything for a while, and then Phil Rodgers spoke up. "He can still get a tie if the blade comes open on the cross-hander," Phil blurted.

It didn't, and it wasn't about to. Orville Moody hit a cannon down the 18th fairway, and he slashed a five-iron into the last green as if it were the Fort Hood post tournament all over again. And when he stood over his 14-inch par putt to win he let the Open daze stroke it in for him. Outside the crowd whooped for the nobody who was all of a sudden somebody, and even in the locker room they gave him his due.

"The sergeant didn't back off from nothing," said Phil Rodgers loudly. And there was some nervous laughter about the fact that Moody, after hitting the shot onto the green, had subconsciously replaced his divot.

Rosburg came in just then and was met by his well-wishers, some tearful, some not. He managed a smile and traded a couple of glances with players who understood. Rodgers understood how it is and, keeping Rosburg honest, he grabbed his arm and shouted, "You dog. You dogged it, man." Rosburg said yeah—that's what he did.

But Orville Moody was somewhere else. He had taken a check for $30,000, he had phoned Lee Trevino, he had attempted to explain to the press who he was—just a guy who thinks he knows how to play golf—and where he originally came from, a town in Oklahoma.

He was also trying to figure out something that he thought he had heard during a long-distance call from President Nixon. Something about it being a great victory for the middle class. Last trick question. Since when is the U.S. Open champion middle-class?

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