Once, Raymond Floyd was a man imprisoned by his own emotions. When he tried to break free, his every approach met self-contempt and challenge.
It wasn't so much a drive in the rough that would prompt a Floydian fit so much as it was a drive for success.
Thus, it was a rage created by reason. "I thrive on pressure and I like to win," says Floyd, who grew up in Fort Bragg, N.C., a son of an Army man.
Now, Floyd is 39 years old. He has been on the tour nearly 20 years, the victory stand 17 times and has cashed $2,032,397 in career earnings. It's the sixth highest amount in golf history.
With the decades and the dollars have come self-control. The militarism of his early 20s has faded to the mellowness of his late 30s.
These days, some people even call him "Ray."
"In 20 years, you'll learn to accept things. I was young. I have learned. If you get up-tight, it will cost you. I have grown . . . matured. Absolutely, I'm more in control now," said Floyd.
After two rounds, Floyd was certainly in control of this 64th PGA Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club. With a second-round lead of two shots, Floyd spoke from experience, saying, "It's early and it doesn't mean anything. It's a difference of one hole: a birdie versus a bogey."
Some of the veterans on the tour have been around Floyd from the tempests to the tameness.
Said Arnold Palmer, who joined the tour in 1955, "Ray had a strong personal conflict with everybody and with himself. But that was a very long time ago. It's something that took time to recover from."
Palmer, who now spends more time with corporations than courses, added, "Ray has settled down since he got married about 10 years ago. He's very family oriented now."
Jack Nicklaus, who joined the tour at age 22 in 1962 (one year before Floyd), said, "Ray's a good player that pretty much minds his own business. He doesn't bother anybody else. Sure, he gets down on himself. But all golfers get down on themselves."
Although he has scaled the list of career earnings, Floyd has not scaled the peaks of golf superstardom. When you go down the money list, reading the names before Floyd's, you don't go down much in status: Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino, Weiskopf and Irwin.
That is where superstardom goes out and Floyd comes in.
Said Larry Nelson, defending PGA champion who missed Friday's cut, "I don't know what or who classifies you as a superstar. It seems you need an outgoing personality. Ray is not as outgoing as Lee Trevino. But you can check the records and see he ranks up with the best of them."
Said Palmer, "I suppose what has kept him from really happening is that he hasn't won the U.S. Open or the British Open."
But Floyd has won the Masters (1976) and the PGA (1969), the other two legs of the Grand Slam. This year, he is one of six multiple winners on the tour, having won the Memorial Tournament and the Danny Thomas-Memphis Classic.
With a voice as harmless as a two-foot gimme, Floyd said, "I've been treated very fairly. I've never asked for anything and I don't feel slighted in any way."
As he opened up a lead here, Floyd also opened up his personality. After another day of heat-induced perspiration and exasperation Friday, Floyd said, "The heat has gotten me. I think I've about had it. It's taken its toll."
Then a member of the peeping press asked Floyd whether the younger players might have an advantage over him. Something about age causing body meltdowns. Floyd said with a smile, "I'm still young."
And still winning.
Says Palmer, "If there's one thing about Ray that I know, he's very positive in attitude. You start to think about all the guys on the tour, then you realize Ray has been around since he was 19. Just staying around 20 years is something."
Said third-place Jim Simons, projecting a winning score two rounds early, "I think we're looking at a score as low as--well, I guess it depends on Raymond."