Bob Tway watches his first tee shot sail down the fairway at a practice round Wednesday at Inverness Club. The tournament starts Thursday.
It happened 25 years ago and it is frozen in time as one of the immortal shots in golf history, replayed countless times on highlight segments.
That "It" was Bob Tway's famous shot from the deep bunker along the front, right side of the 18th green at Inverness Club, a miraculous stroke which found the hole and gave Tway the 1986 PGA Championship.
"It's kind of hard to imagine it's been 25 years," Tway said Wednesday after playing a practice round at Inverness in preparation for Thursday's first round of the U.S. Senior Open.
"It just goes to show how fast time goes by. It's always great to come back here. I've actually been back here quite a bit."
Tway was a guest at a Dana Corp. outing a few years after winning here, competed in the 1993 PGA Championship and, more recently, watched his son, Kevin, play in four events here for Oklahoma State University, including an NCAA championship tournament.
But the only time Tway actually got back down in that bunker and tried to duplicate the magical shot was about a month after it had forever etched his name into golf lore.
Golf Digest asked him to come over to Inverness when he had returned to Ohio to play in the 1986 World Series of Golf in Akron.
"They told me that it was sort of an instructional thing," said Tway, who was the PGA's player of the year in '86. "I hit 20 shots and didn't make any. Since then, I don't really remember getting in there and doing it again.
"The reason is, I don't think I can do any better, so I just leave it alone.
I don't feel I need to get in there and try to hit it. I just prefer to remember what happened that day."
What happened was Tway's rallying from four shots behind leader Greg Norman to win on a Monday, after Sunday's scheduled fourth round had been suspended by weather.
His bunker shot, which is about the only thing anyone remembers these days, was only the closing act in Tway's impressive comeback. Having already won three PGA Tour events that year, Tway was in a mini slump entering the PGA Championship having missed back-to-back cuts.
He set the stage with a then course-record 64 in the third round at Inverness, then climbed closer to Norman with some pivotal play on the back nine.
"I got a lucky break and Greg had an unlucky break on No. 11," Tway recalled. "He made double bogey. Now, instead of four shots, it's two shots, and that's a whole different ballgame.
"On 13 I hit a very good 1-iron, on the par-5 and two-putted for birdie. That sounds funny because we don't even use 1-irons anymore. So, now it's just one shot."
Tway, now 52, confessed that even he doesn't remember how he pulled even with Norman, but he is crystal clear on how he stayed there, making the memorable shot possible.
"On 17 I hit it to the right of the green and I had the worst lie I had ever seen," Tway said. "I asked [marshals] if somebody had stepped on the ball while they were looking for it. They said no, but the lie was just horrible.
"I hit a big flop shot, got lucky, and it trickled down there three feet from the hole and I made it. Without having that up-and-down, the last hole wouldn't have been so significant."
Significant enough that it ultimately defined Tway's golf career. It was his only victory at a major, and one of just eight PGA Tour victories in his career.
"Each time I sign an autograph here, it seems like everybody was there back in 1986," Tway said. "Everybody remembers the bunker shot. That by far is the highlight of my golf career, no doubt about it.
"Winning the PGA Championship in the fashion I won it, and making that shot. That's what everybody remembers. People ask me: 'Why do you think people remember that shot so much?' I think it's because bunkers shots, to a lot of people, are difficult."
And, when they hole out to win a major, difficult to forget.
Tway enters play Thursday as the 38th ranked player on the Champions Tour in 2011, with season earnings of $321,980 in 14 events.
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