"I just arrived myself," Jack grinned.
Nicklaus might well have been headed for a 64 or 63 at any other course—he certainly appeared to be in that kind of mood. But Nicklaus was at Oakland Hills and Oakland Hills doesn't permit such frivolous things. So on the 12th hole, even though he nailed a one-iron that looked like it would get him an eagle putt, up jumped the monster to turn the whole thing around—and take Jack out of the championship.
Had the ball carried one more foot, it would have been perfect, but it wasn't one foot longer and it bored into the lip of a bunker. Jack had to stand on his head to gouge at it, and the ball only trickled back down in the sand into his footprint. He bogeyed. The rally was done, and Oakland Hills only relinquished a 68 to Nicklaus instead of the 65 or 66 he needed to get back into things. He would close with a 72, a 287 and a tie for 13th place.
Nicklaus had arrived with the most highly publicized sore finger in golf history, but the finger was fine and didn't seem to bother him. It did provide a few jokes, most of them from Lee Trevino, who put a Band-Aid on his glove and explained to the press that he had a "sore glove."
Trevino, still celebrating the British Open victory, played almost as indifferently at Oakland Hills as Nicklaus. He unveiled a six-wood, though, and announced he was going to revolutionize the tour with it, and Lee took delight in revealing that he was so wealthy now he could afford to pass up the $250,000 Westchester Classic to play in the New Mexico PGA Pro-Pro at Truth or Consequences.
Until the end on Sunday, when Gary Player outscuffled all those challengers, the big excitement was created by a 60-year-old man in a yellow hat, green pants, blue sweater, red glove and the saddle-oxford golf shoes of his rightful era.
Yes, Sam Snead, age 60, shot a 69 at Oakland Hills for a total of 284 and a tie for fourth place. And the fact that Snead happened to do it at Oakland Hills made it all the more amazing. For it had been on that same course, 35 years earlier, that Snead had played in his first U.S. Open, the 1937 U.S. Open, and shot 283, good enough for second place, which was the best he ever did in a U.S. Open.
Once again, it brought up the question of how much of a sport is golf if a 60-year-old man can come within three strokes of winning one of the big championships?
Well, the answer is that Sam Snead is ageless, and all you had to do to know how tough a sport golf can be was to watch Gary Player, in the true heat of the PGA, hit that shot for the ages over the willows and lake of demeaning old Oakland Hills.