Whatever misgivings the players may have had on the subsequent drive from Chiba to the Sohbu Country Club, a 45-minute ride past seemingly endless construction, interspersed with stores and houses dismally clad in corrugated metal, with only an occasional dusty pagoda roof to remind one that this was indeed Japan, were dissipated by the course itself. The clubhouse is a long, handsome building with a beamed dining room overlooking a fountain and four putting greens. Beyond it lie fairways so carefully nurtured and delicately manicured that they resemble greens on some U.S. courses. Almost without exception the rolling fairways are lined with graceful groves of cedar and pine, and the greens look as velvety as pool tables. Also awaiting the visitors, of course, were Japan's celebrated girl caddies, their heads swathed in the voluminous white scarves that make them look like golfing nuns. After his first practice round Jerry McGee—asked if he minded having a girl transport his clubs—exclaimed, "Mind! Is there a two-stroke penalty for falling in love with your caddie?" An amused onlooker said, "Tomorrow you will see a 50-kilo girl carrying a 17-kilo golf bag for a 100-kilo golfer." (Not so—the girls were allowed to use two-wheeled carts during competition.)
On Tuesday night the Taiheiyo Masters tournament suddenly developed a kind of soap-opera quality—Mexican soap opera, at that. Trevino, poised to leave San Francisco, had been called home to El Paso by the illness of his wife and child. Would he come to Japan? Would he not? There was consternation among the sponsors. Without samurai Supermex, would anybody come to the tournament? As one functionary wistfully remarked, "I am sure Gibby Gilbert is a fine golfer, but he is not exactly a household word in Japan."
Wednesday, a sunlit day with a light breeze, the psychological clouds rolled back, too. Supermex was coming. And early on Thursday, a damp, dark, muggy morning, he was there, his skin a sort of gray-brown from sleeplessness and fatigue, but his red shirt festive and his sudden smile infectious as ever. He attracted most of what gallery there was—perhaps 2,000—as he teed off, attended by red-jacketed officials, green-coated marshals and the girl caddies, flowering now in military-looking, olive-drab uniforms, their scarves replaced by green and white kepis, their hands demurely encased in white gloves. For a man who had never even seen the course, let alone played it, Trevino did well. After a two-over-par 37 on the first nine, he came home in 34—two under—to match the club's 71 par.
Others, however, did better. Phil Rodgers, in with a 66, was asked if the greens were bumpy (there had been a few complaints). "Man," Rodgers said, "I never think they're bumpy when my putts keep rollin' in." Gardner Dickinson, who had a 75, said later. "It's a real good course, but walking from the greens to the next tee is like playing nine extra holes." (Bob Jones conceded that it sometimes was a long trip, the result of choosing the best 18 of 27 and phasing out intervening holes.) Mostly, however, there was praise. Bruce Crampton said, "I wish we could roll these fairways up and take them along with us."
The oppressive Thursday heat presaged a natural phenomenon: on Friday everybody learned that Typhoon No. 22 had hit the tip of the Chiba Peninsula (the Japanese are pragmatic about typhoons—they give them numbers instead of girls' names). Sohbu was only on the fringe of it, but even so the weather was formidable. The winds blew erratically, up to 30 mph, and they brought continuous cold and slashing rain. (A few old Japan hands wondered if Amaterasu-Ohmikami, the sun goddess, had sent a kamikaze to repel this latest invasion. Once before this divine wind, which Shinto legend says saved Japan from Mongolian conquest in the 13th century, was delivered at the wrong time, possibly because of bad intelligence. It hit Okinawa on Oct. 2, 1945, and it would have sunk the entire U.S. invasion fleet if the atomic bomb had not intervened.)
Whatever the source of the weather, it sent many scores skyrocketing. Trevino himself had to settle for another par, but a few golfers seemed to thrive on adversity—notably that little-known Aussie, David Graham. Graham had shot a 67 on the first day, but it went almost unnoticed. Now, in the wind and rain, he did it again to card a 134 and lead at the halfway mark. Gay Brewer, also obscured but hardly awed by the Trevino melodrama, came in with a 138—an opening-day 67 plus a par 71. Afterward Graham, who is still understandably annoyed that he had to spend two years clearing the PGA school to play in the U.S. despite his status as an Australian-Asian and World Cup star, said, "Remember one thing. It is the players who make these tournaments possible, not the sponsors."
As though to prove that the Pacific Masters can provide any and every kind of weather, Saturday dawned opalescently clear—even in Tokyo. Typhoon No. 22 had blown the smog away and Sohbu glistened under a bowl of Maxfield Parrish blue. But about all the good weather proved was that both Graham and Brewer are men for all seasons. Brewer finished at 205, eight under par, and Graham was right behind him at 206. Another Aussie, Graham Marsh, was next at 209. Gene Littler, making a grand recovery from cancer, was tied for fourth at 211.
On Sunday the tournament came down to a battle between the husky, amiable Brewer, who played with implacable solemnity, and the slight, wiry and volatile Graham. The day was sweet and clear as sake as they moved around Sohbu's stately course: even, exchanging the lead, then even again. Coming into 18 they were both eight under, but Brewer had a chance at a $65,000, 10-foot birdie putt. The ball halted two inches from the cup.
The playoff had been advertised as sudden death, but it was death by torture instead, a three-hole playoff over the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. In real sudden death Brewer would have won on 17 when Graham got a bogey, but there was still the 18th, and Brewer once again found himself with a 10-footer for par and the money. For the second time the ball trembled to a halt at the cup's edge. Bogey—and back to 16, this time for the real thing.
The 16th—a 214-yard par 3—requires a carry across a ravine bottomed on the left by a lily pond. Both Brewer and Graham missed the green, but it took Graham three more shots to get down. Brewer chipped stiff to the pin for a par 3—and had his biggest pot, plus $2,000 extra won Saturday for low score of the day. Brewer's victory in the 1967 Augusta Masters undoubtedly is still his No. 1 thrill in sports, but Sunday's $67,000 win may seem more memorable to the Internal Revenue Service. No other golfer has ever won as much money in four days. Not many have withstood as much pressure.