TOLEDO — He was jumping up and down in the sand like a kid. Bob Tway? Jumping up and down? All golf season long he had been Mr. Deadpan, the analyst, the troubleshooter, the Swiss watchmaker on a grass workbench. What had they called him? The Poker-Faced Kid? And now he was jumping up and down, waving his fists and kicking up sand, until the sea of people lining the 18th green was cheering and jumping with him, and some people were crying, they were so overwhelmed.
And soon he was crying, too.
“How do you feel?” asked a TV reporter who grabbed him as he came off that final hole.
“I feel . . . I feel great. . . . ” he said, a tear rolling down his right cheek.
Only a minute earlier he had made the shot of his life, a 25- foot wedge from the right bunker, that lifted to the green in a spray of sand and rolled like destiny to the pin.
And went kerplop.
It’s twue, it’s Tway! He had won the PGA Championship. He had won his first major title. He had beaten Greg Norman, the superstar heir apparent that everyone had been talking about all month. He had done it with one shot from the sand. One incredible shot.
“Were you confident you could make it?” someone asked him afterward.
“I wasn’t even trying to make it,” he said. “I was just trying to get it close. I’m not that good.” Blood lust not enough But on this day, he was good enough. The Oklahoma golfer — who, despite his 27 years, still looks like Chip from My Three Sons
— had started where he left off Sunday, when the final round was postponed due to rain. He was four strokes behind Norman — who was 11 under — and Norman had looked unbeatable.
But on Monday, Norman seemed to be set on playing to Tway’s level, and in the end, playing just a shade beneath it. So his lead went from four strokes to two strokes and then one stroke and then no strokes. The two leaders were tied from the 14th on.
Tway played — what else? — steady golf, with often magnificent approach shots and only acceptable putts. Several times he had chances to leave Norman behind with birdies, but the ball rolled past or came up short.
So when they lined up their approach shots on 18, the final hole, the thick crowd was still whispering, “Norman.” And when Tway hit the bunker, they figured the “Shark” was smelling blood.
Not this day. Norman had a 20-foot chip to the pin, a tough shot at best. But before he got the chance, Tway made that magical wedge, knocking his ball from the sand to the superlative.
And Norman knew it was over.
“What did you say when his shot went in?” someone asked Norman afterward.
“I said, ‘Oh, s—!’ ” he answered honestly.
It twue. It’s Tway.
Norman missed the chip. He shook Tway’s hand. Tway’s wife ran out and hugged him. He pulled off his visor and waved it high, and the personality was peeled out from under the perfection. No more analyst. No more watchmaker.
“Way to go, Bobby!” someone yelled.
“Tway! All the way!”
“All right, Bob!”
He smiled. He cried. “You’ve always been so unemotional,” someone pointed out.
“I guess . . . I am . . . pretty serious,” he said, stopping twice to catch his composure. “But right now, I’m the happiest person in the world.” Now let’s twy Tway So the PGA is over, with a new champion. And not the one many expected. Norman took his loss well, and his accomplishments are not at all diminished — as some may suggest — by finishing second at yet another major tournament. It only means that more than anyone else, Norman belongs at the top of the golfing world.
And Tway belongs alongside him. Remember that this win is only the capper on a spectacular year, in which Tway has 13 top-10 finishes, and four tour victories.
The Masters returned us Jack Nicklaus, the U.S. Open revitalized Ray Floyd, the British hailed Norman and now the PGA celebrates Bob Tway. The, uh, excitable Bob Tway.
“You were really thrilled,” someone said.
“Oh my,” he said. “That shot may never happen again in my career!”
He held the trophy, his wife heldroses, and the Monday sun was setting as on a weekend on this, a richly satisfying golf season. One with drama at every Grand Slam corner, and now, four worthy champions: two veterans, one new superstar, and a poker-faced kid, jumping in the sand.