After it was over and he had won the day's glory and the cash, Ray Floyd hugged his little son and kissed his wife as they stood under the grandstand behind the 18th hole of the Doral Blue Course.
"Perseverance," whispered Raymond to Maria Floyd, not with a practiced smile of victory but eye-to-eye as though he hoped his day had been an illustration to her of some insight about his life work that he didn't want her to forget.
"Persistence," he said, letting her know exactly what word had been running like a chant through her man's brains during his hours of professional stress.
Perhaps that is golf's only lesson. Other games are created to give us fairness in an arbitrary world. Golf deliberately devises even more galling injustice than we find in life at large.
It is hard to count the times defending champion Floyd could have quit today as he fought David Graham head-to-head for 18 exhilarating holes to win the $45,000 prize in the Doral-Eastern Open by a shot with a 66-68-71-68 -- 273 sequence.
Floyd kept Tom Kite, winner of last week's Inverrary, two strokes away from catching him and getting a shot at the $250,000 bonus that would be his for adding this title -- $500,000 if he could make it three straight by winning next week's Tournament Players Championship.
Floyd's first chance to disappoint himself and make this a day for reproach rather than pride came immediately.
"When I woke this morning," said Floyd, who began the day with a one-shot lead, "I saw the wind was up. I figured if I shot 70, the pack would have a fit catching me."
He didn't figure on Graham. The fit 34-year-old Australian with the compact, precise swing began with the finest burst of any round of his golf career: eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie. "Oh, no, never did any bloody thing like that before," Graham said.
"I started the day birdie-birdie-par-par, and instead of increasing my lead, I was a stroke behind before I could even catch my breath," said Floyd.
"It turned into match play between David and me," said Floyd, who for the first time in his $1.5 million career, won for the second time on a particular course. "Nobody else got to the lead, though plenty of guys were waiting for us to slip. It's my most draining day of golf ever."
The final crescendo began at the 15th hole, just as it seemed like drama had ended when Graham took bogey from a bunker. Floyd needed only a two-foot par putt for a two-shot lead with three holes to play. Floyd, who endured "missing 20 birdie putts from 12 feet in this week," lipped out the knee-knocker.
Given a reprieve, Graham smoked a nine-iron shot that ate up the pin for a tap-in birdie at the 379-yard 16th. "I could see that David was dead stiff," said Floyd, who promptly whistled a wedge shot that backspun to six-foot putting distance for an answering birdie to stay ahead by a shot.
If ever a man needed perseverance, it was Floyd at the 17th. He drove into a trap. His approach was so wild right that it went beyond trampled ground and buried in wiry Bermuda rough.
As Floyd explored the jungle, he grumbled, "Where is it?" "Don't move," said a marshal. Floyd, only a yard from his ball, still couldn't see it.
"Houdini couldn't have gotten up and down from there," said Graham. "Raymond had to go over a trap and only had 10 feet of green to work with."
"Floyd, however, is as good a sand blaster as there is on the PGA Tour. Pros marvel at his daring wedge game. "I had to gamble, play a real golf shot," Floyd related, beaming. "I blasted it very much like a buried bunker shot."
Floyd's fluffy, brave, biting shot escaped the bank of the trap by a foot and trickled pin-high eight feet from the hole.
"Phenomenal," despaired Graham. "One of the greatest shots I've ever seen and the best that ever beat me."
"If David thinks it was great where he was standing," said Floyd, "it's good he didn't see the lie. Then, he'd really be crying."
The 18th hole here hits you like a Hudson Bay School mural with knuckles. One instant, you're on a staid golf course, the next, you see blue water left, green palms right, a white clubhouse like the Taj Mahal in the distance, red ceremonial bunting on the vast grandstand, and a pointillist crowd painted tee to green. Even the prevailing wind in your face suddenly doubles and the metal sign reading "437 yards" creaks as it sways. This is the Blue Monster.
Thought Floyd: "Well, here is the hardest driving hole in the world. Water left. Unplayable right. And you got to belt it a ton or the second shot (over water) is even tougher. This is what it's all about. Make your good swing.
"Years ago, I'd have been frightened by that shot," Floyd admitted. "Now, I kind of enjoy it." Floyd's windboring, draw drive was the stuff of dime fiction. He knocked the dimples off it. "Might've been the longest drive I hit all week."
That ended the tournament. Graham couldn't match it. He sliced an ugly drive far right, had to punch out 100 yards short to avoid a palm tree, wedged poorly to 25 feet, then left his par putt meekly short, falling back into a tie for second with Keith Fergus who, like Graham and fourth-place Kite, shot 67.
Floyd took a meaningless final-hole bogey because a cameraman zapped him with a motor-driven machine during his backswing on a chip from the fringe. "The most adverse thing that's ever happened to me at such a crucial time," said Floyd. "I'm just glad it didn't mean the tournament."