Although an enormously exciting tournament was in progress, you couldn't tell by the leader boards. Up there tied after 36 holes were 45-year-old Bob Erickson, a sometime club pro, and a tour regular named Jim Colbert, the guy with the fat putter and a hat brim turned down all around like a gardener. Colbert had put together a couple of 69s, and Erickson had posted a 67 after an opening 71. They were at 138, two under. The situation was normal: guys named Erickson and Colbert leading the U.S. Open while Tony Jacklin, Billy Casper, Dave Hill, Frank Beard and Tom Weiskopf missed the cut.
But now the real Open began. The course had dried out, the elegant greens were being rolled and triple-cut to make them slicker still, and tee shots were going to be dangerous. The field was down to the low 64 players, and the glorious weather was holding. It was time then for the amateur, Simons, to slice himself a portion of Open history with his 65 on Saturday, and time then for all the glorious fun on Sunday. The battle lines were drawn. It had come down to Nicklaus against the kid, Simons, and both of them against the lurking Trevino, and everybody against the quiet strength of Merion. Some think Merion was the big winner.