Two-Time USGA Champion Moody
Dies At 74August 8, 2008
Orville Moody, a two-time USGA champion whose only
victory on the PGA Tour was the 1969 U.S. Open, died Friday
at the age of 74 in Texas. The cause of death was not
Nicknamed "Sarge" because he rose to the rank
of sergeant during his 14 years in the U.S. Army, Moody
remains the last person to win the U.S. Open after playing
in local and sectional qualifying.
|Orville Moody's lone PGA Tour
victory came at the 1969 U.S. Open in Houston. (USGA
Two years after giving up his military career to make a
trial run at the PGA Tour in 1967, the Oklahoma native held
off Deane Beman, Al Geiberger and Bob Rosburg by a single
stroke at Champions Golf Club's Cypress Creek Course in
Houston, Texas. Moody, then 35, posted rounds of
71-70-68-72 for a 72-hole total of 1-over-par 281. It was
only Moody's second appearance at the Open. His first came
in 1962 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club when he failed to
make the 36-hole cut.
Moody, a gifted ball-striker whose career was plagued by
putting problems, would finish the 1969 season as the PGA
Player of the Year.
After turning 50 and joining the Senior Tour (now the
Champions Tour) in 1984, Moody enjoyed much more success
thanks to the long putter, winning three of his first five
tournaments. He finished with 11 career Senior Tour
victories, including the 1989 U.S. Senior Open at Laurel
Valley Golf Club in Ligonier, Pa., at the age of 55. Moody
charged into the lead with a third-round 64 (eight under)
and closed with a 2-under 70 (279) for a two-stroke victory
over Frank Beard.
"The USGA was proud to call Orville Moody an
Open and Senior Open champion," said USGA Executive
Director David Fay. "While his victory in the 1969
Open at The Champions was a surprise (with the
notable exception of a fellow former Veteran by the
name of Lee Trevino!), Orville's superb ball-striking
talents were, thankfully, showcased over the next
quarter century, both on the regular and senior
Tour. The expression, 'he could golf his ball'
certainly applied to Orville. I am saddened to
hear of this champion's passing. He was a
stand-up kind of guy who earned the admiration of
all with whom he came in contact."
At the time of his Senior Open victory, Moody joined
Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper and Gary Player as the only
players to have won both a U.S. Open and Senior Open. That
feat has since been matched by Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus
and Hale Irwin.
The son of a golf course superintendent, Moody, a part
Choctaw Indian, was born Dec. 9, 1933, in Chickasha, Okla.
At Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City, he won the
state high school golf championship in 1952. But after
spending a few weeks at the University of Oklahoma, Moody
opted to join the U.S. Amy, where he spent 14 years heading
up maintenance supervision and instruction at all Army golf
courses, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant.
When he decided to give professional golf a try in 1967,
Moody was making $5,000 a year. In his first full year on
the PGA Tour, he earned $300,000. Besides his U.S. Open
triumph, Moody's only other top-10 finish in a major came
when he tied for seventh at the 1969 PGA Championship, but
he did have five runner-up finishes in other PGA Tour
Moody, who competed in 250 PGA Tour events, also played
many international events during his professional career,
winning titles in Hong Kong, Morocco and Australia. He also
took a club pro job in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
The same year Moody won the U.S. Senior Open, he added a
second major title at the Mazda Senior Tournament Players
Championship, which helped him earn $647,985 in 1989. His
last title came at the 1992 Franklin Showdown Classic.
Overall, Moody competed in 513 Champions Tour events,
with his final appearance coming at the 2003 Constellation
Prior to the 1995 season, Moody had triple bypass heart
surgery, but still managed to compete in 29 events after
Memorial service and arrangements are currently
Story written by USGA New Media staff writer David