The ball flew through the tree's branches without so much as a bruised dimple and landed without incident on the green. "Huge break," said Janzen. Two-putt par.
Still, he three-putted the 12th to squander his lead. He and Stewart were tied. Janzen was being sucked under. "I was exhausted," he would admit afterward. He may have run out of petrol—but not luck. He drained a 25-foot no-brainer on the 14th to get back a one-shot lead and then came to 16, the hole of his life.
For once, Janzen hit a bad shot and it stayed bad. His tee shot on the 204-yard par-3 fell 30 feet short of the hole in the tall grass, leaving him a dangerous downhill pitch to the pin. A thousand yards away, the last guy to chip in from jail to nail down an Open was sitting in the press tent watching him on TV. Watson had chipped in on 17 at Pebble Beach in the 1982 Open to beat Nicklaus. Now it was Janzen's turn. He hit a chip that was as delicate as baby's breath. It rolled lovingly and gently into the cup. Remind you of anything, Tom? "Slightly," said Watson, who finished fifth on Sunday.
Stewart looked as though somebody had tried to cure his headache with a sledgehammer. Still, he collected himself. He rolled his 45-foot putt to within an inch of the hole, but the damage was done. Two-shot lead.
On to 17, where Janzen's guardian angels waited in the trees. Again, Janzen's drive went barreling right, into a tree, only this time the ball did hit a branch, which sent it flopping back into the fairway. "Another great break," said Janzen. He made par. In some circles that's a "barkie." The Lord be with you.
On to the uphill par-5 18th where, one more time, Janzen's drive sailed right, into the rough. "I was hoping we'd have a terrible lie," said Janzen's caddie, Dan Huber, curiously. "I didn't want him to try and hit it over the water no matter what." For a time Janzen fiddled with a seven-iron, hoping to hit out of the deep grass and over the creek that lay two thirds of the way down the par-5 hole. Finally, he asked for a sand wedge. "I knew if I hit it in the water, it would've been the dumbest decision in the history of golf," Janzen said afterward. Instead, he laid up with the sand wedge, leaving himself a tricky, 192-yard, uphill four-iron with a two-shot lead on the last hole to win the U.S. Open. Stewart was in front of the green in a bunker in two. He could still make eagle and easily make birdie. If Janzen mishit this shot, he had every chance of going home heartbroken.
He pushed it. Cue the angels, who saw to it that when the ball landed near the green, it kicked magically left, rolled over rough, clumps and froghair and ended up eight feet from paradise. Baltusrol roared. Stewart's head dropped, "I could've made that putt with my shoe," Janzen said with a sigh.
New Jersey. Nice place to win.
For Stewart it was another lesson in Good Losing (Advanced Placement). "I'll just keep knocking on the door," he said. "One of these days that door is going to be open, and I'm going to bust right through it." Stewart's problem may not be his shot selection so much as his shirt selection. No wonder he lost. On Sunday he wore a Buffalo Bills shirt.