"Downhill 12 feet and left-to-right break is four-putt distance for me," Snead said. "I been known to knock them kind to Virginia. But it just trickled in. And Gardner said if that could happen, there wasn't no tellin' what else might."
What else did was Sam's nine-foot birdie that rammed into the cup at the par-4 16th, and the eight-foot birdie that dropped for him at the par-3 17th, drawing Snead and Dickinson into a tie with Nagle and Thomson, leaving the four with one legendary hole to play. Snead's last birdie put the winners 17 under par with a score of 193.
Nothing better could have happened to the Legends than for Sam Snead to have won the inaugural. Perhaps more than any other, his name in the headlines will enhance the future of the event, and it deserves a giddy future. The two men most responsible for getting it started are Fred Raphael and Jimmy Demaret, old friends and coworkers from a TV series called Shell's Wonderful World of Golf. Raphael, a promoter, sold the idea to NBC, and Demaret sold it to such legends as Julius Boros, Bob Rosburg, Jay and Lionel Hebert, Chick Harbert, Roberto de Vincenzo, Jack Burke Jr., Ralph Guldahl, Paul Runyan and Lewis Worsham.
In the rest of the field, in addition to the legends present, there were also a few friends of Demaret. A few self-proclaimed legends, uninvited, were missing, such as Charlie Sifford, the legendary black golfer, and Art Wall, who perhaps had more impressive credentials than, let's say, the lone amateur team of Dale Morey and Ed Tutwiler, or Bob Toski, Pete Nakamura and even Mike Souchak, who never won a major tournament, while Wall took a Masters.
But the idea was to keep it small and exclusive in the beginning. The future calls for expanding the field and perhaps moving the tournament to other courses. Fred Raphael even dreams of taking it overseas one day to so romantic a venue as St. Andrews. No wonder he said the chances were less than 50-50 that it would return to Onion Creek in 1979, although the city of Austin warmed to the festival as it would have to a touchdown drive by the Texas Longhorns, and the club provided an overdose of hospitality to every visitor.
Demaret tried desperately to get Hogan to team up with him again, as they had so often in the old Inverness Four-Ball. No doubt Hogan would have doubled the gate and upped NBC's Nielsens. But Ben probably knew old Sam would birdie those last three holes, and he had seen enough of that in the past.
But, all in all, thanks to Sam, it was a legendary finish to the first Legends tournament. Golfers everywhere should be rooting for it to prosper as long as the cashmere and the alpaca.