There was a time, not long ago, when Orville Moody lived up to his name on the Senior Tour. He'd miss a putt or a chip shot, or maybe miss a cut, and he'd turn, well, moody.
He had a short fuse. He'd lose a shot and lose his temper. He'd curse the fates. He and golf had an adversarial relationship.Then, last summer, he hired a new caddy - and his disposition changed markedly.
The new caddy was his teenage daughter, Michelle.
"She watched me a few times, saw me throw a few clubs, heard me say a few choice words, and she didn't waste any words," remembers Moody. "She told me I had a rotten attitude, and I should change it."
Which he sheepishly did.
"How can you be nasty around your kid?" says Orville.
In no time, the new, mellow Moody was playing the best golf of his life. He won twice last year when Michelle carried his bag, and has added three more Senior Tour victories this season. No Senior pro has won more tournaments in 1988, and his official earnings of $263,138 coming into this week's Showdown Classic at Jeremy Ranch - where Moody is among the favorites - ranks second to Bob Charles on the money list.
Statistically, the 54-year-old pro ranks third on the Senior Tour in sand-saves, second in scoring average, greens-in-regulation and putting, and first in eagles, birdies and par-breaking rounds. Needless to say, he leads the all-around stat list by a wide margin over Harold Henning and Miller Barber, who are Nos. 2 and 3.
He has no qualms giving credit where it's due.
"Michelle told me the reason I couldn't play was I got so mad," he says. "She could say that and get away with it. She's helped make the difference."
So has his new putter.
Moody went to a long, 50-inch putter and revolutionized his putting stroke.
"It gives me a pendulum type stroke, and I only use my right hand," he explains. "The other hand just holds the putter still."
He's averaging less than 30 putts on any given Senior Tour round. He has needed less than 25 putts a number of times.
"To win out here, you've got to putt," says Moody, who has plans to market the "Orville Moody Signature" 50-inch putter - available in your local pro shop soon.
From his days on the regular tour, Moody is best remembered for winning the 1969 U. S. Open. Then a 36-year-old recently retired Army sergeant who had turned pro only two summers before, Moody won the Open at the Champions Golf Course in Houston by defeating Al Geiberger, Bob Rosburg and PGA Commissioner Deane Beman in a playoff.
It would prove to be his only official win on the PGA Tour, although he was repeatedly in contention.
"I might have won 25 or 30 more tournaments," he says, "if I could have made putts. Anybody would tell you that. It was unusual that I won the Open. As I recall, I had 137 putts that week, which was very high. I heard Curtis Strange won the Open this year with 114 putts. I was fortunate."
Now, in his second career, the putts are dropping. In less than five seasons as a Senior Tour pro, Moody has already won more than $1 million - compared to the $389,915 he won during more than a dozen full years on the regular tour..
"It's a lot of fun when you're playing good," he says.
That goes for his caddy, too, who is sharing in the wealth in the wake of Moody's success the past year.
Moody pays Michelle, who is 18, $300 a week plus 5 percent of his winnings, plus expenses.
"She's got to be the highest paid caddy out here," he says. "The going rate is $300 to $350 a week plus five (percent), but no expenses. I'm paying for everything - the travel, the rooms, everything."
Already this season, Michelle has won more than $13,000 on percentage of her dad's winnings, plus her weekly $300.
"She's taking the year off from school to work for me," Moody says. "She likes it out here. She likes the money."
And she likes the gentleman she's caddying for.