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Clampett has made a habit of attracting attention in the U.S. Open. As an 18-year-old in 1978 he was tied for fifth after two rounds at Cherry Hills. And this year at Inverness, having missed the cut but having been asked to fill out a twosome, he chose to tee off several times from his knees and hit a couple of chip shots between his legs. The USGA viewed this with disdain. Last week Clampett didn't resort to any such foolishness.
In contrast, Cook is methodical and cautious. To prepare for Canterbury, he spent almost two weeks hitting balls and playing solitary practice rounds, working on his concentration as much as his game. On the course Cook is almost phlegmatic, but off the course he can be fairly daring. For instance, he admits having driven a Porsche he owned at 155 mph in Palm Springs. "But that was when I was young," he says, almost apologetically.
The three players who made it into the semifinals with Cook were all relatively obscure. Along with O'Meara, they were Rassett, who plays for Oral Roberts, and Cecil Ingram of the University of Alabama. Ingram played his way into the semis—and an exemption for the 1980 Masters—through such heroics as hitting a putt from 45 feet 35 feet past the cup and then making the 35-footer coming back.
Though he seemed intimidated by the attention he got by attaining the semis, Ingram nonetheless brought a refreshing down-home quality to a tournament where the top players all had Nicklaus' attitude, Ben Crenshaw's haircut and Arnold Palmer's gift for P.R. Ingram's father, Hootie, is associate commissioner of the SEC and a former football coach. When reporters asked Ingram what his father was doing now, he took the question literally, glanced at his watch and replied, "He's either at the office or on the way home."
Against Cook on Saturday, Ingram fell back to earth by shooting a 41 on the front nine and losing six of the first 10 holes of what turned out to be a 5-and-3 defeat. He said he would play in the Masters—if it didn't conflict with a college tournament.
O'Meara's semifinal victim, Rassett, had dominated his early opponents. Against Siderowf, for instance, he was an easy 6-and-5 winner. In the four rounds leading to the semis he had lost only seven holes. He is from Turlock, Calif., a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, and claims his abiding affection for golf derives from the summer of his 16th year, when he spent three months doing construction work, pushing around wheelbarrows filled with cement. Since then Rassett has rarely done anything more strenuous than putting. "You'll never hear me complaining," he said.
O'Meara played with confidence after he saw that Rassett was pressing and that for the first time in the tournament Rassett's driver' was misbehaving. At the fifth hole one of his scattershot drives hit a woman spectator. It was that kind of day for Rassett. When he drove the ball well, he usually played a good hole. When he didn't, O'Meara picked up easy wins. During the match they halved only two holes, and after O'Meara birdied the fifth through seventh, he was able to play safe much of the rest of the way. He wound up winning 3 and 1.
For everyone else on Sunday, Canterbury was all leaden clouds, mist and drizzle. For O'Meara, the underdog, all things were bright and beautiful. At the U.S. Amateur, a sense of the moment is important. O'Meara was at the right place at the right time. Cabbage or king, he was, above all, the champion.