"I've already got him drilled," said Strange.
So it was that life on the PGA Tour once again made no sense. Neither, for that matter did the leader board. Last Friday, for instance, Hale Irwin had a one-shot lead over Rocco Mediate and Jodie Mudd. Irwin? Shouldn't he be playing a senior tournament? The 44-year-old Irwin has always loved a course that gives away birdies about as often as home lots. Only three shots back was Watson, 40, who said, "We older players get sneaky in our old age." And they talk about the Senior Tour lowering its age limit to 45.
After three holes on Saturday, Irwin had given up the lead to Mudd, but then the rains came, and play was postponed until Sunday. It was a strange sight. Hale on the course, and Mudd on the leader board. But by the time the third round was completed early on Sunday morning, Irwin had melted away with a 74, and we were left with a feature threesome of Mudd, Calcavecchia and resident iconoclast and sartorial risk-taker Ken Green. Green wore a hot-pink, fuchsia and lime-green shirt that looked like an explosion at a Sherwin Williams store. Let's see, Calcavecchia had ripped the course, and Green is widely known for ripping everything else on the Tour. Wonder whom Beman was rooting for?
At the 1983 Masters, Mudd was two shots off the lead on the last morning and imploded to an 86. "Those scars lasted a long time," he says. But in 1988 he won his first tournament, and another in '89, and he had a doggedness to his step on Sunday. He told his brother and caddie, Tommy, 26, at lunch-time between the two rounds, "Today is the day we take it up one more level."
From the start he did just that. Mudd birdied the second and third holes to go three up on Calcavecchia. Green was flitting from waste bunker to alligator pond by then and was out of it, but Calcavecchia couldn't be shaken. This is a guy who not only won the British Open last summer but also is proving to be almost uncuttable. He has finished in the top 10 seven out of nine tries in 1990.
By the time Calcavecchia birdied the 16th with a seeing-eye 16-footer, the two were separated by a single shot. On 17, Calcavecchia swallowed his pride and aimed for dry land instead of the pin. He put the ball about 30 feet from the hole. Mudd, though, hit the shot of the week. It checked up five feet from the pin to the thunderous acclaim of fans, CEOs, players and the occasional osprey. For a moment Calcavecchia stared at the ground, beaten again. Then he stared at Mudd and laughed. He walked up to him, gave him a low five and said, "Tell me you pushed that." Later Calcavecchia said he was suspicious because "Jodie's a great player, but he ain't that great."
Mudd had. In fact, he had aimed for Calcavecchia's ball. But a guy can't be perfect, can he? He walked up and stroked his putt in for a birdie and a two-shot lead, which even a bogey on 18 couldn't screw up. The $270,000 was his, not to mention a 10-year Tour exemption and the shiniest day of his career.
For a guy who grew up picking up trash on the local municipal course in Louisville for greens fees, for a guy who never belonged to a country club, for a guy who won consecutive U.S. Public Links Championships in 1980 and '81, the TPC course and its greens were dandy, thanks. "It's something I'll always cherish," he said. "I took on those guys, and I fought them off."
Meanwhile, the destitute and downtrodden Calcavecchia was trying to find something to hold on to. His final rounds in those four second-place finishes were 69, 65, 69 and 69. "That'll usually take you where you want to go, won't it?" he said.
He has our condolences.