Before he died unexpectedly Friday, Bert Yancey had never won a PGA Senior golf tournament. Neither had his good friend Tom Weiskopf.
Now both will have their names engraved on a trophy as winners, thanks to the, shall we say, miraculous play of Weiskopf Sunday afternoon.Weiskopf made four consecutive birdie putts, on the final three holes and on the first playoff hole, to spoil Dave Stockton's bid for a second consecutive Franklin Quest Championship title at Park Meadows Golf Club.
Afterward, an emotional Weiskopf requested that Yancey's name be put next to his on the trophy with an asterisk by it. Senior PGA official Bryan Naugle said the request would be honored.
"I didn't win this thing, he made me win," said Weiskopf. "If you want to talk about destiny, this was it. There was no doubt in my mind.
Even Stockton, who had practically owned the Franklin Quest Championship since winning by nine strokes a year earlier, couldn't stop the tandem of Tom Weiskopf and Yancey Sunday afternoon.
At least three times Stockton seemed to have the tournament won Sunday only to have destiny intervene. Weiskopf stayed alive with an 80-foot birdie putt on No. 16, a short birdie putt on 17 and a testy 25-footer on 18. Then on the first playoff hole, Weiskopf knocked in a 20-footer to claim the victory.
With his first senior victory, Weiskopf pocketed $75,000, while Stockton, the Senior Tour's No. 2 money-winner, had to be content with $44,000. Bob Murphy and Jack Kiefer, who both had the lead for much of the afternoon, tied for third at 205, just one stroke back, while Jim Albus and George Archer were another two shots back at 207.
The 51-year-old Weiskopf trailed the leaders all day and seemed to shoot himself out of title contention when he hit into a bunker at No. 14 and took, not one, not two, but three strokes to get out. After imitating your average Sunday afternoon hacker, Weiskopf sank a tough putt for a bogey, but trailed Stockton by two shots with just four holes to play. He still trailed by two after both parred the next hole.
Going to the No. 16 hole, Weiskopf told his caddy, "I'm going to birdie the next three holes." That didn't seem very likely when he hit his 8-iron some 80 feet above the hole.
But along came destiny for the first time and the putt rolled over hill and dale and found the cup for a remarkable birdie. "I knew I was going to make that putt. I just had that feeling," said Weiskopf.
"It was a real shock to see him make that putt," admitted Stockton.
At the par-5 17th, Stockton hit a marvelous 3-wood to within six feet of the cup for what looked like almost a gimmee eagle for a putter as good as Stockton. Uphill, no break. By sinking the putt, the tournament's would be Stockton's.
But again destiny got in the way and Stockton's seemingly easy putt slid by on the right side, missing by a good two inches.
Heading into 18 Stockton was still in control, leading Weiskopf, Murphy and Kiefer by a shot. One of the challengers would have to birdie to force a playoff. Kiefer, playing in the group ahead, and Murphy both just missed on their birdie chances.
Weiskopf had the toughest putt of the three, a 25-foot downhiller. The ball was still five feet from the hole when Weiskopf started his celebration, which included several punches of the the air with his fist and a huge smile.
Stockton came over and congratulated Weiskopf even though he still had work of his own left with a 3-foot par putt. He made it and they were off to the 18th tee together again.
At the tee, Stockton asked Weiskopf how he was doing and told him to "relax a little bit." The two even joked about coming back together for the media day prior to next years tournament so they could go fishing together.
"What a class guy Dave Stockton is," said Weiskopf. "He did a tremendous amount to get me through the last two days. That meant a lot to me."
Stockton appeared to have a big advantage when his approach fell within eight feet, while Weiskopf left himself with a 20-footer. But once again destiny came through for Weiskopf as his putt found the cup, while Stockton's slipped by. After getting a hug from Stockton, Weiskopf looked to the heavens and punched his fist in the air in a tribute to Yancey.
"I think there was a reason why he was playing as well as he was," said Stockton. "I thought I had a great chance, but it wasn't meant to be."
"This has to rank with my British Open win," said Weiskopf. "My two most important wins were my first one and the British Open (in 1973). This one equals those two. I'll never forget it."
Murphy had grabbed the early lead, moving to 13-under par with four birdies on the first eight holes. But he hit the bunker at 9 and bogeyed, then followed with another bogey at No. 10 and No. 13.
"It was a disappointing day after such a good start," said Murphy. "I hit four shots that the wind got a hold of. But all in all it was a good week in Utah."
Kiefer, who was looking for his first senior victory, held the lead after making five birdies on the first 10 holes. But at No. 12, he found trouble and made double bogey to fall to 10-under. He birdied 14 and 17, but a bogey at 16 proved costly and he just missed on a 20-footer on the final hole.
But this wasn't Keifer's or Murphy's or Stockton's tournament to win. It was Weiskopf's, with a lot of help from his friend.
"I never said I was going to win it for Bert," said Weiskopf. "But I feel very satisfied about what happened and how it happened. That's about as exciting a scenario as I've every been involved in. It was unbelievable."