SAN FRANCISCO, JUNE 13 -- There was a curious conversation on the 10th tee at Olympic Club here one Sunday 21 years ago.
"It looks like I'm going to have to work pretty hard for second, Arnie," Billy Casper said to Arnold Palmer.
It was the final round of the 1966 U.S. Open. Casper was playing with placid indifference. Palmer was at his best.
"I'll do what I can to help, Bill," responded Palmer, who had completed the front nine in 32 and led Casper by seven shots with nine holes to play.
Twenty-one years later, with the U.S. Open returning to Olympic this week, Palmer recalled the comment.
"Boy, I helped him plenty, didn't I?"
Somehow, Arnold lost.
On the par-3 13th, Palmer hit a 4-iron into the rough and made bogey. Casper made par. Both parred 14.
The 15th is a par-3. Casper played a safe shot to the middle of the green. Palmer challenged the bunker that guarded the green and the pin.
The shot hesitated on the edge of the green, then trickled into the bunker. Palmer made bogey. Casper holed a 20-foot putt. The lead was three.
The 16th is a monster of a par-5, 604 yards long. Casper played a cautious shot away from trouble.
Using a driver, Palmer hooked his tee shot, hitting a tree 150 yards away and dropping into deep rough. The second shot advanced it -- into even deeper rough. His third was with a 9-iron, back to the fairway.
His fourth was with a fairway wood, which found a bunker. Casper, meanwhile, played a 2-iron second and what he called "a magnificent 5-iron" third to within 13 feet of the flag.
Arnold made a bogey. Casper made the birdie putt and the lead was one.
On the 17th, a par-4, Palmer again hooked his tee shot. But Casper pushed his. Each failed to reach with their seconds. Casper got to four feet, Palmer, in deep rough, to eight.
Palmer stroked the putt dead at the heart of the cup. It stopped short for another bogey. Billy then made his for par and they were tied.
On the final hole, Palmer again hooked into the rough. He got it to within 25 feet with his next shot. Casper had played two shots to 17 feet.
Palmer's first putt was about 3-4 feet short. But he made his second. Casper then parred for the tie.
Casper easily beat Palmer in the Monday playoff. But it was the Open Arnie lost.