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OBITUARIES : Orville Moody, 1933-2008

Golfer won U.S. Open, hit his stride after 50

August 09, 2008|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Golfer Orville Moody, whose only PGA Tour victory was in an upset at the 1969 U.S. Open, died Friday in Sulphur Springs, Texas, of complications from multiple myeloma. He was 74.

Moody, who earned the nickname "Sarge" because of his service in the U.S. Army, won the Open at Champions Golf Club in Cypress Creek, Texas, a Houston suburb, when he came from three shots behind Miller Barber on the last day.

Although Moody never won another PGA Tour event of the 250 he entered, he became more successful after turning 50 when he switched to a long-handled putter and won 11 times on the Senior PGA Tour, now called the Champions Tour.

"We are all going to miss Sarge, who was a patriot first and a professional golfer second," said Tim Finchem, PGA Tour commissioner.

"He embodied a bit of golf's everyman that we could all identify with."

Moody, a native of Chickasha, Okla., won the U.S. Senior Open at Laurel Valley Country Club in Ligonier, Pa., defeating Frank Beard by two shots.

He finished in the top five on the Senior PGA Tour four other times and was second on the money earnings list in 1989 with $647,985.

Moody played 513 Champions Tour events, his last at the 2003 Constellation Energy Classic, then the Ford Senior Players Championship.

In 2007, Moody played in the unofficial Demaret division for players 70 and older at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf with longtime partner Jimmy Powell.

Part Choctaw Indian, Moody spent 14 years in the Army.

He was the last player to win the U.S. Open after earning his way into the tournament through both local and sectional qualifying.

Moody's most famous victory was his Open triumph, a tournament that Barber had seemed destined to win.

After rounds of 67-71-68, Barber's three-shot lead looked solid.

But then Moody played the first eight holes in one over par and was shocked to find himself in front.

Barber had bogeyed five of his first eight holes on his way to a 78.

Thanks to a key missed three-foot par putt by Bob Rosburg at the 17th hole, Moody needed only par at the final hole to win.

He was 14 feet away from the hole after his approach shot and asked United States Golf Assn. official Frank Hannigan what the low score was.

"You have two putts for the championship," Hannigan answered.

Moody, putting cross-handed, left his first shot about a foot from the hole, then rolled in the second for a round of two over par 72 that was worth his major championship.

Memorial services in Sulphur Springs are pending.


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