1969 U.S. Open champion Moody, 74, dies in Texas

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Orville Moody, the U.S. Army veteran who won the 1969 U.S. Open for his only PGA Tour title, died Friday. He was 74.

The PGA Tour said Moody, a part Choctaw Indian from Chickasha, Okla., died in Texas. The tour did not give a cause of death.

Called "Sarge" because of his 14 years in the service, Moody was the last player to win the U.S. Open after going through local and sectional qualifying. He shot a 72 in the final round at Champions Golf Club in Houston for a one-shot victory over Deane Beman, Al Geiberger and Bob Rosburg.

"I am so sorry to hear that Sarge has passed. Barbara and I send out our most heartfelt thoughts and condolences to his family and what I know is a very large circle of friends," Jack Nicklaus said. "Sarge was a good player and a terrific guy. He had this sort of dry sense of humor that everyone truly enjoyed. He was one of those people you couldn't help but enjoy being around.

"The fact that Sarge was a U.S. Open champion validates the kind of player he was, and the fact he battled through local and sectional qualifying to get there, reflects, in some way, the type of person he was. Sarge contributed a great deal to the game of golf. I guess you could say Sarge served his country and the game of golf very well."

Moody was a five-time runner-up on the PGA Tour and won tournaments in Hong Kong, Morocco and Australia.

"We are all going to miss Sarge, who was a patriot first and a professional golfer second," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "He embodied a bit of golf's everyman whom we all could identify with."

A long putter helped revive his career when he joined the 50-and-over Senior PGA Tour in 1984, and his 11 victories included the 1989 U.S. Senior Open.

"The USGA was proud to call Orville Moody an Open and Senior Open champion," USGA executive director David Fay said. "While his victory in the 1969 Open at The Champions was a surprise, 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."

Moody made the last of his 513 Champions Tour starts in the 2003 Constellation Energy Classic. He last played in the unofficial Demaret Division for players 70 and older at the 2007 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, teaming with Jimmy Powell.

Memorial services are pending.