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When he would hit a shot off-line, he would hear something like, "How far is it from the corn, Davey?" Hill could only smile, chain smoke and try to catch Jacklin, which was getting increasingly difficult because the Englishman slowly stretched his lead to four strokes at the end of 54 holes. Jacklin's 70 on Saturday, in fact, was as low as anyone shot that day—and once again it featured a charmed shot at the 17th.
For the second time Jacklin drove wildly into the left rough off the 17th tee and found himself confronted with the same old decision. Should he try to dig it out of the weeds and get it up and over the trees and onto the green, or should he chip out safely? Hill was in position for a good birdie try, and there could be a two-or three-shot swing if a gamble did not pay off.
To the surprise of all, Jacklin went for the green again. This time he slashed a perfect eight-iron high over the forest and down onto the putting surface, and he got his par 4. With two chances on 17 to lose the Open, he had only moved closer to winning it.
The last chance Jacklin had to put himself in any sort of terrible trouble was at the 9th hole on Sunday. There really weren't too many players within shouting distance of him when the day started, so it was pretty much a case of whether Tony could fend off any kind of charge at him that might be made by Hill or possibly Gay Brewer, who was six strokes back. It was only a day in the sun for everybody else, especially the big three. Palmer and Nicklaus were paired together early, and they cooled it around in 77 and 76 and tied old Tom Morris and Laurie Auchterlonie at 305 and 304. Player did a little better, a 74, and he tied somebody using the gutta-percha ball at 302.
All three of the superstars, as it turned out, were beaten by Ben Crenshaw, who gave the tournament a little extra fun by wandering about in a quietly mod haircut, flairs, a sheepishly polite grin and a big solid golf swing. Crenshaw had shot a 75 on the day of the wind and followed it up with a 73 to hold the early halfway lead on Friday. He looked so good hitting the ball that all sorts of critics, including Byron Nelson and Trevino, said he had the best grip, the best setup and the best swing they had ever seen on a youngster. He closed out his Open with 77-76 on Saturday and Sunday, hardly as dazzling as some of the 61s and 62s he's been known to shoot around Austin, but good enough to tie for low amateur with Mahaffey. This marked the first time anyone so young had done so well since Bobby Jones had been low amateur in 1920.
But if Palmer, et al., were threats 10 years ago—and Crenshaw a threat 10 years hence—there was not a cloud on Jacklin's horizon Sunday except for that one fleeting moment at the 9th hole, when the tournament had a chance to tighten up. Hill, playing just ahead of Jacklin, had turned in even-par 36, and Tony had suffered two straight bogeys at the 7th and 8th holes. He was one over par for the day, and Hill, having gained a stroke, was only three behind. Jacklin had driven into the rough at the 9th. Another bogey here and they would go down the valley into the back nine separated by only two strokes. Also, there would be a tournament to watch.
None of this was about to happen. Jacklin reached the green with his second shot, and even though he gave his 30-foot birdie putt a rather harsh rap—one that for an instant suggested a three-putt possibility—it was headed straight for the cup, which it struck. The ball hopped about a foot in the air and came right back down to rattle around like all good birdie putts should.
And that was the last moment of any kind of drama.
"I knew then," Tony said, "that it was mine if I just took it easy. I actually enjoyed playing the back nine. I thought momentarily about Palmer losing his seven-stroke lead to Casper at Olympic and that such a thing could happen to me, but I put that out of my mind. I tried not to think that I was winning the Open or imagine myself at the presentation ceremonies."
Jacklin said he had been with Bert Yancey on Saturday night, and Yancey, who knew what it was like to lead the Open and then lose it—he had done so at Oak Hill in 1968—had told him to just swing easy, swing slow and play the course. And another of his good American pals, Tom Weiskopf, gave him the same thought a bit more symbolically. Tom put a one-word sign in Tony's locker. "Tempo," it said.