"I will when these fellows get through writing about it," Player said.
Back breaking laughter.
There were jokes earlier in the week about the course or, at any rate, its location. The PGA National Golf Club is way out there in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by vast reaches of nothing much except an occasional condominium or signboard. From a distance the clubhouse looks like the world's largest roof—it is a dark kind of blue-green and hovers over a massive structure of faded, just-missed pink. The place lacks charm and scenery, and the championship was scheduled there at this time of year only because of a clause in the contract between the PGA and John D. MacArthur, owner of the property and practically the owner of the PGA itself. MacArthur wanted the championship to be played at the course sometime and since hot old Florida certainly couldn't be the site in July or August, traditional time for the PGA, February was elected. Next year the tournament will go back to the old date—and back to clubs with more history and charm. Not to harp too much on the subject, the Palm Beach course was a good, tough test of golf without providing true championship atmosphere or flavor or style.
None of this was very important to persons who wanted only to watch good golf. There was plenty of that, and not just where Nicklaus was. It was all around, way out there in the distance where the course disappeared into a curious blend of emptiness and wind. Bob Murphy, for instance, jolted the place with five birdies in a row on Friday, despite a fever and sore throat.
The other minor characters in the week's drama, the Palmers and Players and Gilberts and Bolts, shot scores that everybody thought would be good enough to make them serious challengers. The course was demanding, and a round of 72 was considered just fine. As a matter of fact, without Nicklaus' strong performance, the championship would have been a dazzling race and probably shot through with suspense. Anything could have happened—Palmer made some moves once he got rid of his habit of missing six-inch putts which he did twice. "And I had both hands on the putter, too," Palmer said. "Both times."
And so what if the course wasn't classy enough? The championship is. Winning it means Jack Nicklaus is the only man in the world with a chance to take all four major championships this year—the PGA now, the Masters at Augusta in April the Open at Merion in June, the British Open at Royal Birkdale in July. Certainly, conditions are right. Nicklaus holds the Masters record with 271, once shot a 269 at Merion in a World Amateur Team Championship and has won two British Opens already. And don't assume the thought is not in his mind. "I can't wait to get to Augusta," he said last Sunday.