Calvin Peete beat the D.A.'s best case today and made his own summation to the golf jury. Above all, judge him on this day.
For those, like Johnny Miller, who once said, "Calvin Peete is the king of the B movies," this was the rebuttal.
For those who think that the only thing "B movie" about Peete is his inspirational life story -- a saga worthy of the best Capra corn -- this was the perfect final scene of a 20-year odyssey.
Against the best field anywhere, on one of the scariest courses ever built and with the PGA Tour's biggest pot of gold at stake, Peete broke the 72-hole record at the Tournament Players Club by three shots.
With a final 66 that included eight birdies, Peete won the Tournament Players Championship with a 14-under-par 274 that may stand as the standard for years. Runner-up D.A. Weibring (69 -- 277) played the golf of his life all week and was the only man within seven shots of Peete.
Until this day, Peete's triumphs had come at Milwaukee (twice), Williamsburg (twice), Pensacola, Endicott, San Antonio and Atlanta. Not only had Peete not won a major, he hadn't won any of the other dozen-or-so Tour events that have a touch of panache. Now, he has the glamorous victory he wanted to crown all his other feats.
"This has got to be my best round ever," said a beaming Peete, who started the day tied for first with Weibring and Hale Irwin (75), but dominated the whole day by birdieing Nos. 1, 2, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 17 while bogeying only 4 and 8.
"Add up all the superlatives and it's him," said Weibring. "The man is a machine. He never backed off the flagstick all day.
"And please," added Weibring after watching Peete hole putts from 25, 20, 18, 25, 5, 6, 9 and 5 feet, "don't ever tell me again that he can't putt."
One shot defined Peete. He came to the infamous 17th-hole island green with a two-shot lead and a head full of bad memories.
"I put two in the water there this week," said Peete. "I went to bed thinking about 17 last night. It haunted me . . . I was thirsty . . . very dry . . . but I didn't want to risk doing anything different, even take a drink of water. I decided to take it right to the hole."
Like a champion.
Peete's eight-iron shot on the 140-yard nightmare stopped five feet short of the hole, and this baby was history.
"I let out a sigh and went to the water cooler," Peete said, grinning.
On a hole where 40 balls splashed this week, Peete made deuce.
"I set two goals when I came on Tour 10 years ago," said Peete, who had never broken par on this course before this week. "To win a million dollars and to win a major championship. I definitely feel this is a major."
Peete won with style, from his maroon slacks and Ben Hogan cap to his smiles for his home-state gallery to his bareheaded walk up the last fairway as a Deep South crowd gave him an ovation worthy of the most prestigious golf victory ever by a black man.
For those present at the beautifully lush Pete Dye jungle layout here, this day was a perfect example of what "stadium golf" -- Commissioner Deane Beman's pet idea -- is all about. A crowd of 40,000 could follow the final trio of players and see virtually every shot clearly.
And what seesaw shooting they saw.
Peete took the lead with a birdie at the first hole. He and Weibring birdied the second. When Weibring bogeyed three holes in a row -- Nos. 5, 6, 7 -- while Peete birdied the seventh -- the 41-year-old Peete had a three-shot lead.
Peete bogeyed the eighth from a pot bunker, but immediately answered with a 20-foot bird at the ninth. Weibring, however, wouldn't fold and went on to tie the previous 72-hole Players Club record, set by Fred Couples last year, the third year since the move from the neighboring Sawgrass course.
"I was trying to prove today that I can play this game," said Weibring, at 31 a middle-of-the-pack pro whose $92,000 check surpassed his previous best day by $56,000. "I heard a TV announcer say last night that my 32-40 round on Saturday showed that I 'got back to my own game on the back nine.' After a while, that can rub you the wrong way.
"I was determined to shoot under par on the back and make Calvin earn it. Well, I shot four-under on the back and lost by three. What does that say about him?"
It says that when Weibring birdied 10, 13, 15 and 16, Peete just got tougher. When he strayed into the trees at the 10th, he thought "I was afraid of breaking my club or my wrist on the follow-through, but I figured $162,000 was worth breaking either of them."
Peete's shot ended up 20 feet from the pin for a par.
When he also found trouble at the 15th ("my big chance, I thought," said Weibring), Peete drained a nine-foot par putt.
To put the magnitude of Peete's 34-32 round in perspective, consider that his 66 was two strokes lower than the combined best ball of Jack Nicklaus (76 with four balls in the water), Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't win, but I'm headed in the right direction," said Weibring, whose wedge from the water's edge at the 16th to set up a pressure birdie was a scrapbook shot. "I was trying to achieve something today . . . but I'm still proud to be 'just' the 1979 Quad Cities Open champ."
At sunset this evening, one of 18 children of a Florida sharecropper pocketed a check for $162,000 and a crystal trophy worth $50,000.
Peete left school as a child and became an itinerant salesman hawking goods to migrant workers from the back of an old station wagon. Then, he had diamonds in his front teeth. He knew he wanted to be special, but he didn't know how to do it. Then, one day when he was 23, friends tricked him into playing golf. Somewhere in Calvin Peete, a bell went off.
After those nine holes, he headed to a driving range and "never came back for an 18-hole round until I knew I could play properly."
Self-taught, he invented a new golf swing suitable for a man with a permanently bent left elbow. Twice he flunked the qualifying school. When he was told that finally making the Tour should be the answer to his dream, he decided to win $100,000 a year. Once he'd done that, he figured that, though others said he was too old, he might still have time to become one of the very best in the game.
This evening, when the Tour printed up its sheet of data about Peete -- 1984 Vardon Trophy winner, 1983 Ben Hogan Award for bravery, member U.S. Ryder Cup team, winner of $1,519,414 on Tour and winner of more events (nine) than anybody else in the past four seasons -- something was odd about Peete's photo.
The 143 other Tour golfers shown wear open-necked shirts in their publicity pictures.
Calvin Peete wears a white shirt and a subdued silk necktie.