Orville Moody’s lone victory on the PGA Tour was a doozy.
The Chickasha native claimed the 1969 U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in hot and humid Houston, where he posted a one-stroke victory over future PGA Commissioner Deane Beman, future TV analyst Bob Rosburg and future “Mr. 59” Al Geiberger.
Moody won at age 35 and just 18 months after being discharged from the Army. Even more impressive, defending U.S. Open champ Lee Trevino had picked Moody to win beforehand. “He’s one helluva player,” Trevino said.
Afterward, Moody said, “I won it for Lee. It took a lot of guts for him to believe I could win.”
The late Dan Jenkins of Sports Illustrated wrote of Moody’s victory: “And then Orville Moody wept, along with a lot of other Moodys, his wife, Doris, and his two children. They had been out at some Holiday Inn in Houston where the nonnames were. Orville Moody had been driving to the course, from about an hour away, which was even a better reason to weep, some thought. But the tears came from the delirious joy of it all.”
Known as “Sarge,” Moody spent 14 years in the Army. Assigned to Special Services and reaching the rank of staff sergeant, Moody oversaw Army golf courses, taught the game to Army personnel and played in tournaments around the world. He collected eight titles worldwide and won the Korean Open three straight years (1958-60) while serving.
Moody also won the 1969 World Series of Golf, which was not an official PGA Tour event at that time. Two decades after his lone official PGA Tour victory, Moody would win two more major championships on the 50-and-older PGA Senior Tour, claiming the Senior Tournament Players Championship and the U.S. Senior Open, both in 1989.
Armed with a long-shafted putter and a pendulum stroke, Moody prospered on the senior circuit with 11 victories, one of which was an 11-stroke victory at the Vintage Chrysler Invitational in 1988.
Moody was the youngest of 10 children and the son of a golf-course superintendent. He was Oklahoma state high school medalist in 1952 while at Capitol Hill and briefly attended the University of Oklahoma before joining the Army.
Moody died on Aug. 8, 2008, in Allen, Texas. He was 74.