Graham suffered no such mishaps; no doubles and certainly no triples for the entire tournament, and thus it must have been all the more gratifying that he wound up grabbing the title Sunday with those birdies at the 14th and 15th holes, the very ones that had sent Nicklaus and Watson into retreat.
"Today was as good as I've ever played in my life," Graham said afterward. He is a sincere gentleman and was deeply moved by his feat; he is grateful for the opportunities golf has given him. Once a poor young Australian, he is now a wealthy U.S. resident ( Dallas) and has no plans to leave. "I can't vote and I can't work for the government," he said, "but I'm not leaving."
Graham has a sense of golf history, too. On Thursday, after his starting 68, he drove over to Pine Valley in nearby southwestern New Jersey with Crenshaw and had a long look around at one of the game's hallowed layouts. He had never seen it, and Crenshaw, a noted golf-history junkie, was eager to lead him on the sightseeing trip.
The treacherous wasteland of Pine Valley may have reminded Graham of what he still had to do at Merion. That's the thing about U.S. Opens. If you don't keep it straight, the golf ball is going to have to grow more than teeth.