BIRMINGHAM, AUG. 13 -- The PGA Championship will be remembered as more than just a golf tournament by everybody concerned. While Fred Couples brooded over his lost chances and golf authorities mulled long-term implications of a civil rights controversy, previously little-known Australian Wayne Grady celebrated his first major title by drinking Dom Perignon in a coffee shop.
Grady, 33, was numb and exhausted in the aftermath of a trying four days at par-72 Shoal Creek. Back in Queensland there was a party for 40, at his second home in Orlando, Fla., there was a gathering of 20. As for Grady himself, he was alone, attending the obligatory PGA banquet and then wandering back to the local hotel to pour drinks for all comers.
Asked what he felt on winning his first major championship, he lifted a glass and said, "I'll tell you in a few days."
But there will be some immediate effects on a player who had finished second 29 times and was considered more of a respectable journeyman until he beat Couples by three strokes Sunday.
After Grady made his final putt on the 18th hole, the last of six straight pars for a 71 and total of 6-under 282, defending champion Payne Stewart hugged him and said, "This is going to change your life."
It should help Advantage International, the Washington-based firm that represents him, obtain some lucrative endorsements. Just last Tuesday Grady had told Advantage he didn't feel he was receiving the sorts of deals he was worthy of.
Another aside to Grady's victory was that his opinions suddenly were considered important. The most discussed issue throughout the tournament was that of discrimination at private clubs, a controversy that arose in June when Shoal Creek founder Hall Thompson said the club would not be pressured into accepting blacks. After civil rights leaders threatened to protest, Shoal Creek agreed to accept a local black businessman as an honorary member.
Grady, a member of the American PGA Tour who spends most of his time in Orlando, was asked to address the issue scant minutes after he received his trophy. He responded frankly, citing costs of equipment, greens fees and memberships as factors that have hindered minority participation.
"Hopefully there will be some good coming out of what happened," he said. "If there is something wrong we have to get it out. But the idea is not to force clubs to have minority memberships. We can't help it that black role models are playing basketball, baseball and football."
The repercussions of Shoal Creek will continue to be felt throughout the sport, as golf's governing bodies have said they will reassess the sites of their events, moving away from clubs that discriminate.
The PGA Tour is asking its host sites to comply with new anti-discriminatory guidelines.
However, PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman acknowledged that some clubs may choose to drop off of the circuit to preserve their right to privacy. Officials at men-only Butler National have said they are evaluating whether to continue as host of the Western Open. Exclusive Cypress Point in California, which has no black members, is believed to be assessing whether to participate in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Beman said he had not spoken to Cypress Point representatives.
"We haven't had anyone convey that they . . . think the policy we've developed is wrong, even if they don't wish to hold tournaments," Beman said.
If the PGA Championship and Shoal Creek were significant to Grady for something other than the civil rights debate, he could be forgiven. "I won't remember it for the controversy," he said. It is more likely to stay in his mind as the single hardest course he has ever played.
It is said that difficult courses identify great players. Grady may not rank as an upper echelon player yet, but his accuracy on Shoal Creek had to be recognized as a feat. He was the only player in the field who never had a round over par in four days, despite conditions that many in the field called the most arduous they had encountered in a major championship, not just the tiresome 7,145-yard length, but impenetrable rough and capriciously hard greens.
"It was unrelenting," he said. "I don't think I could have played another round on it."