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Orville Moody

Orville Moody, often considered a late bloomer in the world of golf, is fondly remembered for his subtle prowess on the green and his humility off it. With his unusual yet effective left to right swing, the modest Texan registered his name among golf’s greats by winning the 1969 U.S. Open.

Orville Moody was born on December 9, 1933, in Chickasha, Oklahoma. His family moved to Texas when he was a boy, and it was here that Moody started his athletic journey, developing a passion for golf. Before his pro-career, he proudly served the United States military for 14 years, serving both in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. His military career saw him reach the rank of Sergeant, which eventually led to his commonly referred name, ‘Sarge’.

Moody turned professional in 1967, at the arguably late age of 33. This late entry into the professional golf scene didn’t impact his trajectory, proving the old saying that talent doesn’t age. Rather brilliantly, just two years after turning pro, Moody tasted major success by winning the U.S. Open in 1969.

The 1969 U.S. Open victory was extraordinary for a myriad of reasons. Moody started as the last alternate in the tournament, with the odds stacked tremendously against him. Nevertheless, with a steely resolve and an unyielding spirit, Sarge persisted to clinch victory, overcoming the favored likes of Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and a host of other golf greats. This victory etched Moody’s name in the annals of golf history as the last man to win a U.S. Open after starting as an alternate.

Moody’s swing was often described as unconventional. He eschewed the conventional wisdom of the golf swing, which dictates an arc from the inside of the ball to the outside after impact or an “inside-out” movement. Instead, he preferred a left-to-right swing or “outside-in” movement. This approach was a rarity among golf professionals, yet Moody perfected it, weaving a magic of his own on the green.

Despite his solitary win in professional PGA tournaments, Moody’s career rose to newer heights in the Champions Tour. He racked up numerous victories in the senior circuit. His accomplishments included winning the Senior PGA Championship in 1981 and 1982, and the U.S. Senior Open in 1989. These victories cemented his stature as an ace golfer whose competitive spirit remained undiminished despite his advanced years.

Off the green, Moody was well-regarded and beloved, a testament to his unpretentious demeanor and distinct humility. His magnanimity was highlighted by his dedication to various charitable causes and his genuine efforts to give back to the community.

In his later years, Moody faced struggles with health, which eventually led him to step away from professional golf. Sadly, Moody passed away on August 8, 2008, leaving behind a legacy as one of golf’s true gentlemen and a distinctive character in the world of golf.

In looking back at the life and career of Orville Moody, one sees a man who was not defined by the number of his victories, but rather by the content of his character and the resolve of his spirit. From military service to golf course, from being a last alternate to becoming a champion, Orville Moody personified a journey of determination, resilience, and ultimately, triumph. His story is an enduring testament to the fact that champions are not always those with the most consecutive wins or perfect techniques, but those who persevere, adapt, and rise against the odds.

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