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Which somehow brings us to what a LaJet is. Well, it's basically an oil company locally owned by some chaps named Hal and Jack McGlothlin and Tony Andress, who also happen to own Fairway Oaks, a splendid new country club and development in Abilene, and a result of what can happen when a town "jumps the freeway," as they say in Texas. Charles Coody, the 1971 Masters winner and an Abilene resident, is the director of golf, and he had a good deal of input into the course's sporty par-72 design.
Fairway Oaks is unlike anything the pros see all year. It's even flatter than any layout in Florida, and surrounded on four sides by wind as it meanders through mesquite trees and hops over artificial ponds. Last week the course was in superb condition, and this had much to do with the low scoring.
LaJet got on the tour last year when the McGlothlins and Andress told Beman they were willing to make it one of the richest events around ($350,000), and added that they didn't mind a date opposite the Ryder Cup Matches in England in 1981 even though they knew they wouldn't attract the game's biggest names. Tom Weiskopf won the inaugural tournament in almost utter secrecy. This time, LaJet drew one of the best fields of the year. Everybody was in Abilene except Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Harry Vardon.
But as it turned out, the tournament eluded the big names. Levi's opening-round 64 put him one stroke ahead of people named Mike Morley (65), John Fought and Vance Heafner (66s). Stadler lurked at 66 as well, but wouldn't be a factor for long.
After Friday's very windy second round, Levi's 71 left him with a two-stroke lead over Bruce Devlin, a name, but close at hand were Bobby Cole and Gary Koch after identical rounds of 67-71. Wayne then stretched his lead to four strokes over Cole with a 68 on Saturday and was on the board at 203.
Levi, a fine player all through the bag and a scrappy one, was diligent enough Saturday evening to take his lead straight to the practice area. "I want to win this real bad," he said at the time. "The other guys tend to think I'm tough to catch when I have a lead, and I think so, too. That'll help. I'll practice tonight, then go home and let my three-year-old daughter run me ragged till about 10:30. I won't have any trouble sleeping after that."
Levi didn't have any trouble playing golf on Sunday, either. After he birdied the 3rd hole with a three-foot putt and the 6th with a 30-footer, he confessed to shedding all worries. His hands had sweated as he drove to the course, but his wife, Judy, had reminded him he was playing the best golf of his life and that if he just played "smart" nothing would go wrong.
Levi made three more birdies through the 15th hole, including an 18-footer on the 11th green, hard by the LaJet guest cottage and its mammoth inflated Coors bottle. He took a casual bogey at the 16th, then parred in for a closing 68 and a winning total of 271, 17 under par, and a six-shot victory over the glittering field.
As it happened, the runner-up was perhaps an even happier man than Levi. That was 25-year-old Thomas Gray, of Prescott, Ariz., who might have sucked himself right out of a job at a Safeway with the $37,800 he won.
Gray came into Abilene with $14,000 and change in winnings this year. He was 160th on the money list. As usual, he had to qualify on Monday. By Sunday evening, Gray had leaped to about 80th on the list, well within the 125 who will be exempt in 1983.