Something about Bruce Crampton - that taciturn, dour demeanor - made you root against him. For one observer (blush), at least, the highlight of the 1976 PGA Championship at Congressional was watching Crampton slice a tee shot so deep into a thicket that even an army of searchers couldn't find his ball; then duff his fairway shot on the same hole. Triple-bogey seven, and he had to rally to get that.
Crampton was so unlikeable that you had to fight chortling out loud, then doggone the rain that soon came and washed out the day's action and gave the curly-haired Australian a fresh start on the round. Yet the thought crossed your mind that, come on, Crampton probably is really a decent sort when he takes off his game face; good family man and all that.
Good family man and all that. Yes. Yesterday in Dallas, while the rivals he beat out of 15 tour titles (but no majors) were teeing off in the Byron Nelson Classic, Crampton was announcing his retirement from competitive golf, for his family's sake.
Oh, he threw up a hedge - "at least for the time being, but leaving the options open down the road" - but at his age, 42, comeback hopes "down the road" would be slim. Crampton is fifth on the all-time PGA money-winning list with $1,374,294, but has not won since the 1975 Houston Open, had his poorest season in a decade in 1976 and in four early-season 1977 starts, won only $800.
It's been 20 years since the son of a Sydney policeman joined the U.S. tour, and he forever remained a loner out there.
"About 12 months ago, my priorities kind of changed," he said yesterday. "I realized what a wonderful family I have (wife Joanie; sons Jay, 9, and Roger, 3) and that I hadn't devoted enough time to them. Golf was all I thought about . . . I just want to be with my family, live a little, get to know them . . ."
Crampton said his future is uncertain, even as to whether he will apply for the U.S. citizenship for which he will qualify in July; he hopes to enter the business world, has no desire to be a club pro. He'll remain in Dallas, where he settled a decade ago - and should have leisure to make decisions, with the residue of such years as 1973 when he won $274,266, four tournaments and the first of his two Vardon trophies for low stroke average on the tour . . .
The second Vardon was in 1975, and Crampton "didn't think it (his game) would taper off as fast as it did. As a result, I didn't prepare myself as well as I might have for retirement" . . .