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To Brodie, It's Sound of Music : Golf: After 20 years of Southern California jeers, he hears cheers for winning a senior tournament in a playoff.

October 28, 1991|DAN HAFNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There were several firsts for John Brodie Sunday at Rancho Park.

No. 1 was a playoff victory over Chi Chi Rodriguez and George Archer to win the $500,000 Security Pacific Senior Classic, Brodie's first victory in six years on the tour for the 50-and-older golfers.

Just as amazing was the sound he heard shortly after he nearly made an eagle on the par-four 14th, the first playoff hole, and sank a four-inch putt for the winning birdie.

He heard cheers from Los Angeles sports fans. In three years of quarterbacking Stanford and 17 years with the San Francisco 49ers, he had heard only boos in Southern California.

"Wasn't that something?" the balding Brodie asked. "Even my partners on the playoff hole were rooting for me. Chi Chi is a longtime friend, and when I hit that nine-iron that almost went in, George said, 'That's justice.'

"This is a great moment. I couldn't be more excited. What a tournament!"

Brodie, the leader much of the event, fell behind late in the final round and needed a birdie on the 17th hole to pull even with Archer and Rodriguez.

All finished 13 under par at 200 for the 54 holes. In the final round, Rodriguez and Archer shot bogey-free rounds of 66 to keep the pressure on Brodie on a windy, clear day following a rainy Saturday.

Brodie overcame several obstacles. He was penalized a stroke on Saturday on the 15th hole, costing him sole possession of first place.

It would have been an easier tournament if he could have avoided the 15th.

He had a double-bogey six on it Saturday, in part because of the penalty and, when he missed a three-foot putt for par on the 373-yard par-four hole in the final round, he appeared to be a loser again.

The 15th would have been the second playoff hole.

"The way things went, they might not have let me play it again," Brodie said, laughing.

Brodie wasn't laughing Saturday when tournament official Bryan Naugle saw him mark his ball on the alternate green on the 15th and stopped him from playing a shot from behind the green.

At the time, Brodie was incensed about the penalty, but in fairness to Naugle, it should be pointed out that he kept Brodie in the tournament.

If Brodie had played out the hole from where he dropped the ball, it would have been a two-stroke penalty. If Brodie had signed his card with a bogey five on the hole, he would have been disqualified.

"You can't believe what this means to me," Brodie said. "It means I don't have to go to qualifying school, and I'll be exempt for a year. It also means I'll go to La Costa with the other winners (for the Tournament of Champions). Oh, what a feeling!"

Brodie said he won the tournament because of the two best five-irons he had ever hit.

"The first one came on the par-three 12th hole, when I hit it to within three feet of the pin," he said. "But the best hit was on the 17th. That's a tough par three. I knew I had to have a birdie to get even with my two friends. I also knew that with the high winds blowing in your face on 18 that it would be a tough birdie hole. So, I hit that five-iron within a foot. That felt great.

"As it turned out, the wind stopped when we went to the last hole, and I had a 12-footer to win it. Do you realize that never, since joining this tour in 1985, had I ever been in position to win a golf tournament with a birdie on the final hole? I left it short, but I didn't worry. I was in the playoff."

Brodie had the shortest drive on the 14th, a 393-yard dogleg to the right. He said he was 140 yards from the hole and hit his approach shot a little thin. It landed short and rolled toward the cup.

"I was thinking I had a shot at a birdie," he said. "By the roar of the crowd, I knew it must have been really close."

Archer had the long drive, but his approach shot halted on the fringe, 30 feet from the pin. Rodriguez was about 15 feet past the hole. After Archer left his birdie bid a foot short, it was Rodriguez's turn.

He walked around the putt, then turned to Brodie and laughed. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and put it over Brodie's eyes.

"You don't want to see this," Rodriguez said. "I'm going to make it and it will kill you."

He was wrong and Brodie was a winner.

"I'll guarantee you that Chi Chi was rooting for me," he said. "He was wonderful to me throughout. He's just a great guy and great for golf."

Defending champion Mike Hill failed to rally and finished six strokes back at 206.

Larry Laoretti, tied for the lead going into the final round, two shots behind.

It was the seventh consecutive tournament in which Archer has finished fourth or better. He took over the money lead with $779,205, $21,000 ahead of Hill. Brodie moved from 56th to 34th with his $75,000 prize.

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