The problem was the thunderstorms that swooped in so suddenly and caused more weather delays in a major championship than anyone could recall. Arnold Palmer, still seeking his first PGA title, the only major championship that has eluded him, had already recorded a fine two-under 68, his best PGA score in 10 years, when the first one howled in around five o'clock. All the leaders were still trying to complete their third rounds. Nicklaus thought he saw lightning before anyone else and started for the clubhouse as the sky turned darker and darker. However, a PGA official ordered him to keep playing. "I didn't really see lightning," Nicklaus admitted, "but I heard a lot of thunder—and they can generally be found in the same places."
Everyone saw lightning and wind and rain a few moments later, and play was suspended until early Sunday morning. Morgan, who was three under par and leading Coody by one shot, David Graham by two and Nicklaus by three, marked a risky three-foot putt for his par at the 12th hole and lit out for a roof. Once again he had to think about his lead overnight. And that tricky little putt.
At 7:30 a.m. Sunday the 24 players who had not finished their third rounds were back out at Congressional. Morgan made his three-foot putt after about a 15-hour wait, then said, "I slept on that knee-knocker all night long." But there were others he did not sleep on. He bogeyed the 17th and the 18th after poor drives, and by breakfast time, just when the final round was about to start, he had lost the PGA lead. It had fallen into the hands of Coody, who hadn't won a U.S. tournament since the 1971 Masters.
Coody had gone to the course, played five holes with Nicklaus and returned to his motel by 9:30 a.m. Coody and Nicklaus completed those holes in one under par, each birdieing the 18th, which is one of golf's more scenic points of interest when there isn't a mild tornado brewing. Through 54 holes, then, Coody was the leader, with Nicklaus joining Morgan only two strokes behind and nine other players, including former PGA champions Player, Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton, within five shots. Coody's finishing birdie had given him a 67, the lowest score in the third round, while Nicklaus had put back-to-back 69s onto his opening 71 and looked very much in a mood to win.
The serious contenders played only three holes Sunday before the second storm roared in. When the sky opened up once more and lightning began dancing all around Maryland, Coody had parred three holes and held a one-stroke lead over Nicklaus, who had made a birdie.
None of this mattered because the whole round was washed out, and they all had to start over on Monday, a day usually reserved for playoffs and traveling. But the real question was: By then, did anyone care? There had been two days of golfers turning their emotions on and off like Congressional's lightning detector. They had played part rounds that counted and part rounds that did not. They had developed the art of sprinting to safety in mid-swing. They had seen their rhythms and routines disrupted, even shattered.
And after all of this, the winner would probably be remembered only as the Champion of the Postponed Golfers Association of America.