At that, Job wound up tied for 14th—ahead of Nicklaus and Watson. Chemists cheered him on.
What Rogers basically did on Friday—and also on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday—was always hit the ball in the fairway off the tee, and then mystically choose the right club for the shot to the green in the curious winds that affect play on the old links lands. Although he was competing in the British Open for only the second time (he was 19th last year), Rogers proved to be a master of all the blind shots called for over the bumpy and treeless premises of Sandwich.
Having survived the one bad-weather day with a two-over 72, Rogers became nearly impervious when the weather abated for the rest of the proceedings. He had his iron shots tracking the flags like laser beams. He is considered only an adequate putter on the U.S. pro tour, but at Sandwich he slam-dunked the ones he needed. His 67 for Saturday's third round left him five strokes up on the field.
He landed in maybe two bunkers the whole way, and only in the nerve-ridden final round on Sunday when he went out to protect that fat lead did he scare up a double bogey to give some hope to those chasing him, mainly Langer, who turned pro at 15 and unabashedly admits he's the greatest German golfer in history. A poor one-iron second shot was responsible on the par-5 7th. Quickly, however, Rogers gathered himself together and nailed gorgeous iron shots into the 9th, 10th and 12th holes that resulted in birdies. In so doing, he shut the door on the wiry young West German, whose Harpo Marx hairdo made him look more like the lead guitarist in a punk rock group than one of Europe's better golfers. Raymond Floyd, who finished in a tie for third but seven shots behind Rogers, loomed momentarily as a threat, but only if Rogers were to fall completely apart. Which he didn't—and wasn't that fortunate for our side.
One thing about this Open that stirred comment even before it began was that it seemed to be blighted by American absences. Thirty-two U.S. pros had been declared exempt from qualifying, but 10 of them didn't even bother to enter the tournament, and seven more who did enter didn't bother to show up. Several of these chaps had good reasons for not being at Sandwich: Andy Bean, for instance, was suffering from an injured hand, Larry Nelson said he had a bad back and Gil Morgan was in an automobile accident only days before the start. As to the rest, judgment must be suspended. No matter their apprehensions regarding the difficulties of the course and problems with accommodations, and the fact that a flying visit to Britain has become an enormously expensive proposition, an accomplished golfer at the peak of his career ought to have an ironclad excuse for passing up a major championship. The magnitude of the American dropout was disappointing. Besides Bean, Nelson and Morgan, the no-shows included Hale Irwin, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Bob Gilder, John Mahaffey, Lou Graham, Andy North, Howard Twitty, Mike Reid, Bill Kratzert, Doug Tewell, George Burns III and Don Pooley.
Bill Rogers had a word for this group. "I'd been worried about coming over because so many guys told me what a lousy course this was going to be," he said, "and how expensive it was. I don't know how they could feel that way. This is one of the greatest courses I've ever played. There's too much to gain from playing well in the British Open. You can't let the expense part of it spoil the opportunity of coming over here."
This brave sentiment was uttered before the native of Waco, Texas had hitched up his trousers following his double bogey at the 7th in the final round. As things turned out, the closest Rogers came to losing the championship was on the first day. He was idling on the putting green with only a moment to go before he was supposed to tee off. He thought his tee time was 9:45. It was, in fact, 9:25, and the time of day was 9:24. A British journalist saved Rogers by reminding him of that fact. "Oh golly," he said as he sped to the tee, arriving just in time. Had he been one minute later, he would have been disqualified. Which would really have been expensive.