Stubby and John Adams tied for first at 434, and on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff Larry drilled in a 40-foot putt for a birdie and first place, so he'll be going out on the tour with a little change in his pocket.
There were plenty of tragic stories on the scoreboard. It took a score of 447 or better to qualify and 25 guys, the low 22 plus three ties, made it. One who didn't was Barry Jaeckel. Barry just missed qualifying in last year's school, then played in Europe during the summer. He had quite a record, including a victory in the French Open. Barry sank a five-foot putt on the 18th today, and his caddie let out a big yell. He thought the putt gave Barry a 78 for the day and a total of 447, but when they added up the card it came out to a 79, just one big stroke too many. What a disappointment that must have been. Bob Panasiuk, who is the Canadian PGA champ, shot a 42 on the last nine holes and missed qualifying by four strokes, and Jim Masserio, my partner in the National Team Championship last summer, shot a 78 for 450. Eddie Pearce and Denny Satyshur finished well back at 454. Tom Kite had a 71 and made it easily at 442.
I played with Victor Regalado in the last round, and Victor startled everyone by taking an eight on the first hole. He drove into a pond right in front of the tee, but he settled down and shot a 78 to qualify at 439.
All day long I was keyed up, but with about four holes to go I got a real shot of adrenaline. All my emotions let loose and I thought, "Well, you're going to make it." I'm sure that many of the other guys had the same feeling sometime today. You think back over everything you've done to reach this particular moment and it is overwhelming. I hit good shots the rest of the round and I came up with two of my best on the par-5 18th, two wood shots that left me only 18 feet from the cup. I was really soaring.
Throughout the week a lot of us have talked about what would be a fairer way of qualifying for the tour. Six rounds is a lot of golf, but at the same time it all takes place in a week, and if a fellow has a bad week, he doesn't make it. The only fair way would be to play about 40 rounds. Perhaps golfers could be subsidized on a regional satellite tour for six to eight weeks and the top money-winners from that tour would qualify for the big tour. In six rounds things just happen too quickly. I know that after those first two rounds if I had panicked, I easily could have failed to qualify, and that would have crushed me. As it was, I played the last 72 holes in four under par.
I guess the turning point for me came in the third round when I kept my wits and sank that five-foot putt for my par on the sixth, then parred the seventh and eighth holes and birdied the ninth. That got me going. All week long I kept to my game plan. I concentrated on the mental aspects of the game, did not practice in the evenings and swung slowly and well within myself.
After the final round the PGA had a buffet dinner for the qualifiers. Someone compared it to the last meal before they fed us to the wolves. They took a class picture and also collected $475 checks from each of us for initiation fees and dues and such things. I was happy to write that check. Everyone else was, too. Stubby said something poignant when he accepted his first-place money. He said, "There are 25 first places here this week, and that's all that counts. We'll all be out there." Those words were like music to me. When I heard them I realized that for the first time in a while, I wasn't scared.
Having earned his card, Jim Simons joined the tour late last year, but so far he has found it a struggle. His brief record shows his best finish in six regular tour events this year was a tie for 51st at Tucson. Second place in the pro-am part of the Crosby gave him his largest purse so far, $2,300, and through the Florida Citrus Open his total winnings for 1973 were $3,809. Tom Kite, who was in contention during the final round of the L.A. Open, leads the Class of'72 graduates this year with $10,737. Andy North is second with $10,469. Larry Stubblefield, who won the school tournament, has earned only $590. Eddie Pearce is playing the Tampa mini-tour. He plans to try it all again next October.