"That would be 280," Arnold said. "Doesn't 280 always win the Open?"
"Yeah, when Hogan shoots it," I said.
Arnold laughed and walked out to the tee.
For a while I loitered around the clubhouse waiting for the leaders to go out, as a good journalist should, but then I overheard a couple of fans talking about an amazing thing they had seen. Palmer had driven the first green. Just killed a low one that hung up there straight and then burned its way through the USGA trash and onto the putting surface. Got a two-putt birdie. I walked out on the veranda in time to catch a pretty good roar from down on the course. " Palmer's three under through three," said a man, sprinting by.
Like him and a few thousand others who got the same notion at the same time, I tried to break all records for the Cherry Hills Clubhouse-to-Fourth Fairway Dash. We got there just in time to see Arnold hole his fourth straight birdie. I staggered over to the fifth tee, ducked under the ropes as an armband permitted and stood there drenched, panting but excited like everybody else in the crowd.
Palmer came in briskly, squinted down the fairway and walked over. He took a Coke out of my hand, the cigarettes out of my shirt pocket and broke into a smile.
"Fancy seeing you here," he said. "Who's winning the Open?"
He birdied two more holes through the seventh to go six under, working on an incorrigible 29 out. But he bogeyed the eighth and had to settle for a 30. Even so, the challengers were falling all around him like wounded soldiers, and their crowds were bolting toward him, and the title would be his. Everything would be his now.
Later on, somewhere on the back nine, I remember sizing up a leader board with him and saying, "You've got it. They're all dying."
"Aw, maybe," he said, quietly. "But damn it, I wanted that 29."