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Randolph is a senior at USC who sometimes fogs out at critical times. He lost the '84 Amateur to Verplank in the final when his putter got the chills, and he blew a six-shot lead over the last nine holes of the '85 NCAA, then dropped a sudden-death playoff to Ohio State's Clark Burroughs. After explaining that he needs regular treatment in California for his aching back, Randolph was asked if his doctor was an orthopedist. "What's an orthopedist?" he said.
"Sam isn't dumb," protested Hoffman. "He's mellow. He knows you have to have that attitude in golf. He doesn't like to dwell on things."
Randolph ousted Kay 4 and 3 in the semis on Saturday, and Persons, a resident of Macon who will be a senior at the University of Georgia, beat former teammate Chip Drury 3 and 1. Persons was miffed at the USGA for not naming him to the Walker Cup team, and was out to show what a mistake had been made.
In the final, the morning 18 was erratic. Persons led 2-up after nine holes, but lost five straight holes before winning the 17th and 18th to reach the lunch break one down.
During the concluding 18, neither golfer ever led by more than a hole. Said Randolph, "Every time I complained my back hurt, my caddie went wild." Hoffman agreed, "It was push, pull, putt, bite—total psychology. It was golf in the trenches, mind over matter. We willed ourselves through it."
Randolph birdied twice down the stretch, hitting a four-iron to six feet at the 14th and a wedge to three feet on the 17th. That left the final hole. "It wasn't easy, but I did it," said Randolph.
Considering the travails of the week, that understatement was apt indeed.