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The toughest thing to realize was, sometimes things just don’t go the way you’d like
Years later, Jerry Pate would look back on those series of peaks that underscored his first seven years on the PGA TOUR and tell a reporter that “it was the perfect world.”
The perfection reached a crescendo at THE PLAYERS Championship 1982 when Pate authored an unforgettable script to usher this showcase event into a new era. Pete Dye’s THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass dealt Pate a blow in round three with a water ball at the par-4 18th. “I thought I had lost the golf tournament,” Pate said.
But the genius of the Stadium Course was on display in Sunday’s final round as Pate birdied the island-green 17th and the demanding 18th to shoot 5-under 67 and complete a stunning comeback to beat his brother-in-law, Bruce Lietzke, and Scott Simpson, by two.
The clutch birdies, the introduction of brilliant spectator viewing, the breathtaking theater of closing holes, the watery celebration greenside at 18 for Pate, Dye and PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman . . . all of it was a testament to impeccable visionaries.
Pate’s eighth win in seven seasons was a testament to his great talent. But unforeseen were the shoulder injuries that curtailed his career as he would never win again on the PGA TOUR.
“The toughest thing to realize was, sometimes things just don’t go the way you’d like,” Pate said.
But his legacy is this: He contributed greatly to make sure THE PLAYERS and the Stadium Course did combine for greatness, as envisioned.
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