Interestingly enough, Florida tournaments, despite all their money, are noted for not drawing many spectators. But Inverrary did draw, partly because the sponsors worked hard at it, and partly because of celeb day on Wednesday. The place was jammed with nearly 20,000 fans. A lot of show biz pals of Gleason's came to participate, among them Glen Campbell and Vic Damone, Robert Stack and Bob Hope, Joe Namath and Mickey Mantle. There were a couple of novelties this time, Mickey Rooney for one, Muhammad Ali for another. Ali did not play golf but he attended a function known as Jackie Gleason's birthday party on Wednesday night in the club, and his presence seemed to dwarf everyone else's. Earlier, Rooney had put the golf in perspective by doing foolish stunts on the greens. And Glea-son rode around in a red cart. It was all very fitting for an area that derives immense pride from the fact that Jackie Gleason calls it home.
The tournament began on Thursday with the big names looking as if they thought first place was worth 52�. Lee Trevino had a 76 and Arnold Palmer a 74. Nicklaus took 73 and Gary Player 72. All such scores were a mile behind the leader, Gene Littler, who played like 76 but scored an astonishing 65, seven under par on a course that was so long it would be unthinkable that anyone could break 280 over four rounds.
Littler did his 65 the way most 65s are done—by chipping in twice and coming out of no less than three different bunkers for pars. But he used up all his luck that first day. From then on he drifted slowly back into the heap, although on Friday he still clung to a share of the lead. But those names with whom he was tied looked about as comfortable chasing the largest purse of the year as would most of the spectators on the course with their fishing hats and little stools with aluminum legs. They were John Schlee, Brian Allin and Dick Lotz.
Saturday was the day the tournament began to make more sense. As Schlee and Allin fell out of serious contention, Weiskopf and Tony Jacklin came along and joined Nicklaus and Gary Player among the true contenders. The only surrealist who hung in there was Mac McLendon, who had never won on the big circuit. He shared the top spot with Player and Weiskopf.
There is a saying on the tour that anyone who finishes among the top 15 could have won. Any week. The scoreboard as Sunday got started in bright, good Florida weather showed a horde of people in contention. Only three strokes separated the first 15 players. Jacklin took an early lead, and there were three-way and four-way ties for a while, but by the time everybody reached the back nine it was pretty well down to Nicklaus and Weiskopf.
When Weiskopf eagled 15 he took the lead all to himself. He still had a host of bad shots to hit, and he had already holed more saving putts than the law generally allows. He had made an eight-footer at the 2nd hole, a 14-footer at the 3rd, an 18-footer at the 4th, a 15-footer at the 9th, a five-footer at the 12th, and the 20-footer for the eagle at the 15th. He had no reason to expect anything more from his putter on the 16th or 17th, but they were going into the cup just as surely as he was going to walk into that bunker on 17.
Nicklaus had no chance. He never had a chance. Weiskopf had the magic. Why, when Tom walked through that bunker his feet didn't touch anything but air.