Floyd was already five under for the round when he reached the 15th hole Friday, the day that produced the most yells and excitement. He was confronted with the option of going over the water on his second shot or playing safely, one of the options that stirs up the Masters so often. Floyd ripped into a three-wood, and as he followed the flight of the ball for the full 250 yards the pines began to ring with the familiar voice of his caddie.
"Be there!" he shouted. "Get tight!"
"Go in the hole!" Floyd himself commanded.
"Be a two!" yelled the caddie.
It was a 2�. Officially, a three. The shot was the nearest thing to perfection since Gene Sarazen's historic double eagle on this same hole 41 years before, for it came down out of the cloudless sky, struck the green and began slithering toward the cup. It stopped three feet away. Floyd calmly dropped the putt, as he calmly dropped so many all week, and it was a stunning blow to his challengers. It was the single shot that did the most to give him the second-round 66 and the 36-hole record that, in turn, gave him a five-shot lead on Nicklaus and the rest.
It was then that Floyd began to suspect it was his Masters. He spoke of how his life had changed. "I've traded in my guitar and the Chicago Cubs for golf," he said.
He had also traded in the night life for the family life. Floyd's wife Maria had been a tremendous influence on him, he said. The children and Maria had given him a purpose, and any of his friends could tell you that if Raymond forgot what the purpose was, Maria was around to remind him.
Back in 1973, when they had not been married so long, there was an incident at the Jacksonville Open that Raymond and Maria now laugh about.
"I shot a bad round," Floyd says, "and I withdrew. That's not very professional, but I did it. Then my wife and I sat down and had a long talk. She made me realize you have to work at anything you want to do. It was the turnaround of my career."
After Saturday's round, which might have been among the most forgettable ever, Maria found that she could relax and not follow the play, except on television.