The Local Knowlege

Throwback Thursday

Arnie started cashing tour checks 60 years ago, and tour players are still cashing in today

Forget Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. A better example of connectedness, at least in the game of golf, is Arnold Palmer, who has millions of fans feeling part of the Arnie's Army, as well as thousands of tour pros, including Tiger Woods, who can trace their personal largesse to A.P.

loop-arnold-palmer-1955-canada-300.jpgIn fact, the big money machine that benefits the PGA Tour and its players can celebrate an anniversary this week. Sixty years ago on Friday marks the day Arnold Palmer started making money as a tour player. On May 29, 1955, after finishing his fourth round at the Fort Wayne Invitational, Palmer pocketed $145 for finishing T-25. It was the first official PGA Tour payday Palmer was allowed to keep, having served the long-since abandoned, six-month probation against earning money in tour events after turning pro. (Imagine a tour pro today being told he had to wait a half-year to take home money he earned.) 

Prior to Fort Wayne, Palmer had played 10 tour-run events in 1955, having turned pro at the end of 1954. He finished "out of the money" in five, missed the cut in one and had to pass on $1,144.86 he would have gone home with in the other four. (He was allowed to take home the $695.83 he earned for a T-10 finish at the Masters in April 1955 because it was not run by the tour.) Three months later in August, Palmer won the Canadian Open (shown) for his first tour title and a top prize of $2,400. 

The 145 simoleons from Fort Wayne were the start of Palmer's launch into making golf in general -- and the tour specifically -- financially lucrative. His star power helped the tour grow in popularity, which in turn increased prize money substantially. He was the first to make $100,000 in a season, first to $1 million in career earnings and the first to make advertising marketability an art form, something he still excels at today at age 85. The huge tour purses he helped grow came much after Palmer was capable of winning on tour, but the money he was able to keep at the Fort Wayne Invitational 60 years ago must have felt like a fortune at the time, which is what he turned it into.

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News & Tours

That time I made a complete ass of myself to Loren Roberts at Colonial

Do you remember that Kenny Perry won the 2003 Colonial? I didn't until I looked it up this morning. I was at that tournament, and in hindsight, I vaguely recall Perry winning in what was a resurgent season for the veteran. But 12 years later, I think we all more likely recall that year's Colonial for Annika Sorenstam's historic two rounds playing on the PGA Tour

The concept of a player other than the event winner hijacking a tournament storyline isn't uncommon in golf. We remember that tournament where Michelle Wie made her professional debut and got DQed because of a bad drop, but we don't remember that (fittingly) Sorenstam was the winner. We remember the time Jean Van de Velde coughed up the Open Championship, but you might need a moment to recall that Paul Lawrie was the benefactor.

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But back to that year's Colonial. There was no bigger story in golf in 2003 than Sorenstam, the unequivocal star of the LPGA, testing herself against the men. And as reporters on the scene, our job that week was to try to put it all in its proper perspective.

So there I was, and there was then 47-year-old Loren Roberts. Nice guy, thoughtful quote. Great putter. Roberts was one of more than a dozen players I interviewed that week about Sorenstam, how she might fare and the historical implications of her appearance.

We were standing by the practice green and at some point I introduced the premise (a prescient one, it turns out) that years from now, all we'd remember about this tournament is Sorenstam playing in it. Then to underscore my point, I continued.

"It's really like when Tiger made his pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open in '96," I said.

Roberts nodded.

"I mean, everyone remembers Tiger that week. But does anyone even remember who won?" I said. "Do YOU?"

"Yes," Roberts said. Then he smiled. "I did."

"Oh," I said, blood rushing to my face. "Right."

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Throwback Thursday

Tom Watson's mentor showed club pros could be pretty good players too

The perception that the golf professional at most courses is a highly skilled player traces back to the beginning of the country club and golf-pro relationship in America in the early 1900s. With the passing of Stan Thirsk at age 87 on May 16, we are reminded of how the talented club pro often takes the occasional foray into top-level tournament play, a far more prevalent practice "back in the day" than it is now. 

loop-stan-thirsk-200.jpgIt was especially common for tour-caliber club pros of Thirsk's generation, and earlier, to hold down a club job and still compete on the national stage. And you didn't have to be from a prestigious club or major market. Herman Scharlau was before my time growing up in Bloomington, Ill., but he was the pro at Bloomington Country Club in the 1940s and '50s when the town had just 34,000 residents, and he had a great playing record, including three times making the cut in major championships. Pay on professional tours was quite feeble compared to today, so a skillful club pro got his playing fix in tour events while earning a steady income at the club. And if you were as great as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, you could become a golfing legend while having a club job. The tour's riches today are incredibly tempting, but the skill level is so high on tour that it is a rarity to see a club pro playing a tour event. 

Thirsk, the head professional at Kansas City Country Club from 1961 to 1992 and Tom Watson's lifelong teacher and mentor, is in that elite honor roll of club pros who taught legends but also had great games, including Jack Nicklaus' teacher Jack Grout (who tied for 51st in the 1947 U.S. Open) and Bobby Jones' Stewart Maiden (who tied for 42nd in the 1908 U.S. Open). Grout also played in three PGA Championships during the match-play era and had a 4-3 record. 

Thirsk made the cut in seven majors. In 1963 and 1966, he played 72 holes at both the U.S. Open and PGA; the latter was his best finish when he tied for 37th. He was 48 when he tied for 71st at the 1976 PGA. In 1989 he won the inaugural Senior PGA Professional championship. But he had two spotlight moments on tour. First was a tie for seventh at the 1965 Bob Hope Desert Classic (the same event that another great-playing PGA club pro, Tom Nieporte, the last club pro to win a tour event, won in 1967). 

150521-stan-thirsk-tom-watson-gw-213.jpgSecond was the 1972 PGA at Oakland Hills. At age 44, Thirsk shot a two-under 68 in the first round to lead with Bud Allin. Thirsk was in the last group out on Day 1, teeing off at 2 p.m. He made par on 18 as dusk approached to tie Allin, who had finished as Thirsk was getting started. With Allin seemingly the leader all afternoon, writers had long since done everything but pack their typewriters away. When Thirsk came in at the last to tie Allin and mess up the leads, the typically humble Kansan apologized: "I'm sorry to make you fellows miss your dinner," which, of course as golf writers, would never happen. 

Out with the breakfast crowd in Round 2, an anxious Thirsk asked the gallery on the first tee, "Are you nervous?" He then skied to an 82, but made the cut and ended in a tie for 72nd. But his brief moment in the lead was another example of the quality of game club pros can exhibit in big moments. 

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Throwback Thursday

Verifying if Rickie's 'take that critics' Players win -- and his victory kiss -- were the best of all time

When someone in the golf world is said to have accomplished something historic, most times the place to turn for verification is the Jack Nicklaus timeline. So when Rickie Fowler's win Sunday at the Players Championship elicited the "best ever" label on two fronts -- one for its in-your-face response to doubters of Fowler's talent, the other for his passionate victory kiss with girlfriend Alexis Randock -- anyone looking for comparison needed to see what Jack did.

loop-throwback-fowler-kiss-randock-300.jpgFowler's decisive response after a poll of his peers tagged him the most overrated player in golf was indeed phenomenal, particularly in its quickness. But there are plenty of worthy examples of players who impressively silenced critics. Tom Watson twice beat back naysayers, first at the start in the 1970s and then at end of his PGA Tour career in the 1990s. Tom Kite was said to be past his chance of winning a major when he won the 1992 U.S. Open at 42. Raymond Floyd had won five times in 10 years when the criticism got as personal as it could get: Wife Maria questioned his commitment and desire, and he went on to win 17 more times, including three majors.

Still, Nicklaus undoubtedly trumps Fowler's response to critics thanks to the magnitude of his "take that" victory at the 1986 Masters. The legendary win had the immediacy. The week of the Masters he had read an Atlanta columnist's summation of his chances as: "Nicklaus is gone, done. He just doesn't have the game anymore … He's 46 and nobody that old wins the Masters." A house guest with Nicklaus at the rental he stayed at made sure Jack saw the story by putting the clipping on the refrigerator.

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Then there was the fact it came on a bigger stage (all due respect to Sawgrass and the fifth major). Plus with Nicklaus being 46, the power of the punch was truly unexpected.

As for the passion of the winner's kiss, a search through our archive of Nicklaus images looking to find him putting a big wet one on wife, Barbara, only showed him kissing trophies and posing with Mickey Mouse and Dinah Shore. With Barbara in the picture, he had one hand on the money and the other around her shoulder. So we'll give Rickie the edge in the public display of affection department.

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Editor's Note: After publishing this post, a spokesperson for Nicklaus wanted to make sure that Jack's passionate side got a fair shake. He supplied this AP image from when Nicklaus won the 1961 Western Amateur and earned a congratulatory smooch from Barbara.

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Throwback Thursday

Recalling Pete Brown and Calvin Peete's historic accomplishments

A sad twist of fate best explains the stunningly timed passings of Calvin Peete and Pete Brown, two African-American golf pioneers. Peete died April 29, Brown two days later, and both roughly three months after the passing of World Golf Hall of Famer Charlie Sifford, the most notable golfer in the sport's struggle for equality and fairness for all races.

That both Brown, 80, and Peete, 71, would pass away around the first of May allows flashbacks to key events in their golf careers that are tied to this week of the golf season.

loop-pete-brown-300.jpgBrown was 29 when he won the Waco Turner Open on May 3, 1964, at Turner Lodge (now Falconhead Resort & Country Club) in Burneyville, Okla., a course founded by oilman Waco Turner. The one-stroke victory over Dan Sikes (Sifford finished three back) made Brown the first African-American to win an official PGA Tour event. By winning, Brown was given an invite to play the Colonial National Invitation the following week, making him the first African-American to play in it (he tied for 12th).

Brown's victory was somewhat overshadowed because Sifford had already broken through with a victory at the 1957 Long Beach Open, co-sponsored by the PGA but an unofficial tour event, and because Jack Nicklaus won the Tournament of Champions that same weekend at Las Vegas with a more star-heavy field. Brown got the full spotlight, though, when he captured his second tour win at the 1970 Andy Williams San Diego Open, beating Tony Jacklin in a playoff.

loop-calvin-peete-300.jpgAs for Peete, with the Players Championship starting today it offers a natural opportunity to reflect on his record-setting performance when he won the so-called fifth major 30 years ago. (The Players was held in March back then, so Peete's actual anniversary came March 31.) Until Tiger Woods started winning majors, it was the most prestigious victory by an African-American. Peete shot 14-under 274 to win by three over D.A. Weibring.

After the Players win, Peete felt "this is as much a major as any," and hoped it would trigger a win in a Grand Slam event, but he was nearing 42 and after winning twice more in 1986 to improve his career victory total on tour to 12, he never had as big a moment as the Players win.

With the passings of Peete and Brown, following so closely to Sifford's, 2015 is regretfully becoming the year we lost important pioneers who helped elevate the game to new heights.

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Throwback Thursday

The PGA Tour goes back to the future with its round-robin format at the Match Play

Much has been made of the round-robin approach put into play this week at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park. It's certainly a fan-friendly format with the guarantee that the entire field of 64 will be around for three days rather than the one-and-done elimination that sent half the group home after a single day of the traditional match-play format. However, it's not new to pro golf.

Round robins, both stroke-play and match-play varieties, were a familiar format during the first few decades of the PGA Tour, albeit usually with a smaller field than 64. It wasn't until around 1960 that they were eventually phased out by the predominant four-round, stroke-play tournament. Yet the tour's all-time winningest player, Sam Snead, has round-robin wins among his 82 career titles, including five at the Palm Beach Round Robin (also Goodall Round Robin), named after the clothing company.

Snead won the Palm Beach RR four times in the 1950s, including the one pictured here, the 1954 event held May 12-16 at Meadow Brook Club in Westbury, N.Y. The invitation event had 16 elite golfers -- presumably the tour's best 16 at the time -- play five rounds in groups of four. One round was played on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and two rounds on Friday. You accumulated or lost points depending on how you fared in stroke differential against the other players in your group. Snead shot 67-72-68-66-65 and had a plus 62 to easily win over runner-up Bob Toski, who had plus 26.

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The full field: Front row from left, Peter Thomson, Jim Turnesa, Gene Littler, Cary Middlecoff, Sam Snead, Ted Kroll, Earl Stewart, Bob Toski and Jimmy Demaret; back row from left, Tommy Bolt, Walter Burkemo, Doug Ford, Lloyd Mangrum, Jackie Burke, Harold (Jug) McSpaden, Byron Nelson, Marty Furgol and Ed (Porky) Oliver.

The Palm Beach RR was taken off the tour schedule after the 1957 event, which Snead also won. The reason: Since the majority of tour pros were left out of the tour event the week of the round-robin, with no alternative place to play, there were complaints the event idled the rank and file and only benefited only the elite.

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Throwback Thursday

Sam Snead still is the oldest PGA Tour winner 50 years after setting the record

Age has helped create headlines on the PGA Tour the last few weeks. At 21 years and 9 months, Jordan Spieth was the second youngest winner of the Masters. He was also the second golfer 21 or younger in the last 100 years to win a major wire-to-wire and the second to have three tour wins before turning 22 since World War II. On the opposite end of the longevity scale, when 65-year-old Tom Watson shot a 71 in the first round of the Masters, he become the oldest player to break par in the tournament. A week later he made the cut at the RBC Heritage.

As impressive as the last feat was, it did not break a record however. Rather, it pointed us to the undisputed champion of ageless golf, Sam Snead. He is the oldest to make a tour cut: 67 years, 2 months, 21 days at the 1979 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic. He is also the oldest to finish in the top 10 in a PGA Tour event (63-3-4, 1975 B.C. Open), oldest to make the cut in a major (67-2-7, 1979 PGA) and oldest to finish in the top 10 in a major (62-2-15, 1974 PGA). 

This month also marks the golden anniversary of Snead's other significant-age record: oldest winner of a PGA Tour event. It was 50 years ago (April 1-4) that Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open for the eighth time in his illustrious career. Slammin' Sammy was 52 years, 10 months, 8 days old when he finished rounds of 68-69-68-68—273 at Sedgefield Country Club to win by five over three players. It was the same margin of victory Snead had in his first GGO victory in 1938. New York Times golf writer Lincoln A. Werden began his game story, "Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open for the eighth time today and every senior golfer smiled." 

The 1965 GGO was the 25th time Snead had played in the event, and as part of "Sam Snead Week," a banquet was held in his honor to mark the occasion. A sellout crowd of 800 attended, including TV-show host Ed Sullivan and golf promoter Fred Corcoran. Among the gifts given to Snead were a lifetime pass for free hamburgers and a hunting rifle for the outdoorsman (see below). In his remarks, Snead said, "I don't expect to win, but the boys had better watch out."

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Played the week before Jack Nicklaus would set a then-Masters record of 271 and win by nine, the GGO was well-stocked with a strong field that included Billy Casper, Tony Lema, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros, Charlie Sifford, Dow Finsterwald, Dave Marr and Doug Ford, making the victory all the more impressive. Nicklaus took the week off to practice at Augusta, strategy that had an obvious payoff. 

When asked if he thought anyone could duplicate the success he'd had at Greensboro, it was vintage Snead who applied the needle: "You know, I don't think these youngsters are ready yet."

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Throwback Thursday

Arnold Palmer sort of had a thing for winning first-time PGA Tour events

Arnold Palmer was a first-timer in many golf milestones, such as being the first golfer to earn $1 million in career PGA Tour earnings, but with the RBC Heritage Classic this week, his proficiency at winning a tournament's inaugural event is example No. 1.

The debut of the Heritage Classic in 1969 was held shortly after Pete Dye designed Harbour Town Golf Links, with assistance from Jack Nicklaus. We are used to the Heritage being held the week after the Masters, as it is this week for its 47th playing, but the '69 inaugural event was held on Thanksgiving week, Nov. 27-30. Palmer, then 40, had been winless for 14 months when he put together rounds of 68-71-70-74 -- 283 to win by three shots. Winning at Harbour Town was so new that in a photo of Palmer being given the winner's plaque from tournament chairman Charles Fraser the still-under-construction lighthouse can be seen in the background (see below). Palmer felt like he had won his first tour event all over again: "I think this is one of my most important wins, almost like the first one. I wanted to win this one as much as I would a U.S. Open or Masters, or any other tournament."

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Palmer was the inaugural winner in several tour events among his 62 victories. Of the tournaments on the current tour schedule, Nicklaus won the first playing in three: The Players (1974), WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (1976, known as the World Series of Golf), and The Barclays (1967, as Westchester Classic). Palmer is next with two: the RBC Heritage and Humana Challenge (the Palm Springs Golf Classic when he won in 1960). Others with two are Harry Cooper, Ted Kroll, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead.

But Palmer won the first playing of five other tour events no longer on the schedule, including the 1968 Kemper Open, the 1963 Whitemarsh Open (Philadelphia) and the 1963 Cleveland Open. With the 1969 Diplomat Classic and 1958 Pepsi Golf Championship only being held for one year, Palmer was both the first and last winner in those events.

Photo: Golf Digest Resource Center

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Throwback Thursday

Fifty years ago, Bobby Jones talked about equipment making the game easier and too many golf tournaments on TV

It's been known for quite awhile that Robert Tyre Jones Jr. preferred being called Bob over the public moniker of Bobby. But "Bobby Jones" fit the man's legendary career on and off the golf course as a media hook with more pop than just plain Bob Jones. Imagine Bobby Jones, who was a media juggernaut in print, news reels and golf-instruction movies during and just after his prime, also being a television personality with his own "The Bobby Jones Golf Show."

Six years before he died, Jones was featured in "a rare television appearance" that gave a glimpse of what Bobby Jones as a TV star would have been like. This Sunday will be the 50th anniversary of "An interview with Mister Golf," a TV show Jones did with Atlanta's WAGA-TV 5 and its acclaimed sports director, Ed Thilenius. The show had been recorded on Jones' 63rd birthday (March 17, 1965) and played back at 9 p.m. on April 5, a Monday evening. (WAGA was a CBS station at the time and is now Fox.) Show producers even brought out a birthday cake for Jones.

loop-jones-tv-560.jpgJones' TV appearances were usually limited to the Masters award ceremony in Butler Cabin. In this program, it was just Jones and Thilenius, both men in suits and ties, the nearly immobile Jones comfortably seated in an upholstered chair while his interviewer occasionally got up to pick up equipment props. With an ashtray next to him on a side table, Jones freely smoked cigarettes through a filter, which he clenched more than held due to his crippling disease.

Jones commented on a wide range of topics that were of major importance at the time, including on the eve of the Masters whether 1964 winner Arnold Palmer could be the first person to win the tournament two years in a row. "Of course, Arnold would be one of the prime favorites in any tournament he entered," Jones said. "That's the only way you can play it." (Palmer ended up tying for second with Gary Player, nine shots behind Jack Nicklaus, who set a record at 17 under and "played a game with which I am not familiar," Jones would infamously praise.)

A major commentary was Jones describing his design philosophy regarding Augusta National, touching on, among other things, the intentional choice of making par 5s that could be reached in two shots. "That was one of the conditions I laid down for our architect, Dr. [Alister] Mackenzie. … The purpose of a golf course is to test the player's ability to play shots of all types. Also, to give him the pleasure and opportunity of playing all these shots. So, if you give him a short par 4, he gets an opportunity to play the short approach after a drive. Then, you give him a longer par 4 and he plays the long approach. And on our 5s he can play a wood.

"On some of our par 4s, under certain conditions, he has to play a wood second. So we try to give him a wide test. Now, the standard golf course usually has four par 3s. That's so that every player has to play the approach to the green from the same place—not independently on what his driving ability might be. So that's what you try to do with a golf course. You try to make it a broad test and a broad opportunity for play."

loop-jones-alone-tv-300.jpgSome other excerpts from Jones, whose observations showed he had stayed engaged in the game 35 years after retiring from competition; his comments could apply to some of the game's issues today:

On whether golf had outgrown the era of one-man domination: "That all depends on what you mean by one-man domination. If by that you mean that there will come along a superman who can't be beaten, then I would say that that would never happen because golf just isn't that kind of game.

On the history of Calamity Jane, his famous wooden-shafted putter: "I think that the head was forged about 1890, but I'll have to admit that it's had more than one shaft."

On golfers being more swing-smart: "I ride by a public golf course twice a day, and I am amazed at the good swings that I see, both with kids and older people. Most of them know what they're doing."

On golf being easier and more fun to play: "I'm sure it's an easier game because of better equipment and better courses—you get fewer bad lies—and then people are swinging better. And, of course, it's got to be more fun to play down the fairway than in the rough."

On what he considers the biggest advancements in golf from 30 years earlier: "Improvements in equipment, in the ball, in golf courses and greenskeeping methods, in technique and more widespread understanding of the proper method of hitting a golf ball."

On a recent concern voiced by Palmer about the number of tournaments being held and the possible overexposure of golf on TV: "[I understand] why Palmer said that there are too many tournaments for all the top fellows to play in all of them because to play in a golf tournament every week is beyond human endurance and expectation. The mental and physical strain is so great. So I can understand very well what he meant by that. But that wouldn't mean that we shouldn't have a tournament if people want to put one on. So, [as] far as the overexposure of golf on television is concerned, it may affect the entertainment value of the golf programs but it's one of the main factors for improving the general level of play because it gives the ordinary players the opportunity to see good players and to imitate their methods. That's the reason, or one of the big reasons, you see so many good players on club and public courses."

Jones' sound, simple advice was never more evident than in what he thought was the most important advice to the amateur golfer on how to improve: "I would tell him to play a lot, and when he is playing, just play. Try to get the ball in the hole. If he wants to take a lesson or practice, go on the practice tee to do it and not try to practice on the golf course."

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Throwback Thursday

Peter Thomson's 1985 Senior Tour season remains remarkable

If the late Billy Casper is considered an adjunct member of The Big Three, the three-time major champion had an international counterpart in Peter Thomson. While the less flashy Casper could never seem to escape the wake created by the Arnold Palmer-Gary Player-Jack Nicklaus juggernaut, Thomson's problem with breaking in was a matter of geography. As an Australian considered a part-time player on the PGA Tour in the 1950s and '60s, Thomson existed in a parallel universe to American fans who, at that media-lite time, were rarely exposed to foreign stars.

Born just 18 days before Palmer, Thomson won an impressive 61 victories on the Australian and European tours. Like Player, his game traveled well. He won five British Opens, including three straight beginning in 1954. However, he won just one of the five after Palmer and other American stars had "rediscovered" the British Open in 1960 and began playing it regularly.

loop-peter-thomson-putting-350.jpgBy the time senior tour golf came around in 1980, Thomson was on the verge of one final show of his playing powers. Thirty years ago this month he started one of one of the greatest seasons in senior golf. Thomson won twice on the Senior PGA Tour in 1984, including the PGA Seniors. He then blitzed through 1985 with nine victories, still the most wins in a season on the Champions Tour, only matched by Hale Irwin in 1997. You could make the case, though, that Thomson's nine wins hold a more impressive historical edge because he won them in the year he turned 56 and Irwin won nine the year he turned 52.

The first of Thomson's 1985 victories came on March 17 when he shot a final-round 69 to edge Casper and Palmer by a shot at the Vintage Invitational at Indian Wells, Calif.

The monumental season was a dose of redemption for Thomson, whose low, running ball was more useful on bouncy courses, hence the Open victories and his lone PGA Tour win, the 1956 Texas Open. He was dogged by the stigma of being unable to win in America. But the record shows he finished in the top 10 for a third of his PGA Tour starts, and his lack of U.S. victories truly could be chalked up to his game, which was not designed for lengthy power courses but for a thinking man's layout. He was not an overpowering player, preferring to put a straight ball in play rather than smash it. He said, "Golf is like tennis. The game doesn't really start until the serve gets in."

Thomson's 1985 season showed a golfer in full vigor, solid in all aspects, his brisk playing and strategic thinking a showcase for efficiency. He has always been highly regarded as an articulate golf intellectual, sought out for commentary on golf developments but able to speak on a variety of nongolf topics. He's been a contributing golf writer since the 1950s, TV commentator, president of the Australian PGA from 1962-1994, golf course designer on more than 250 courses, and captain of the Presidents Cup International team three times, including the lone year they won in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Thomson's birthplace and home. He earned a degree in chemistry, and his off-course interests extend to art and classical music. He even ran for the Australian Parliament in 1982, losing by four percentage points. The 1998 captaincy victory came 10 years after he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Wrist problems and a desire to be more home-grounded slowly ended Thomson's senior career. Asked by Golf Digest on separate occasions to analyze the meaning of his phenomenal 1985, he showed his common-sense intellect on his play, saying once, "There's great satisfaction in winning tournaments here, but I have no feeling of having proved anything. There's no sense of vindication or anything like that." He added, "It happened without rhyme or reason. I got myself organized, physically and mentally. I got my clubs organized and everything around me was in place, so I performed my best."

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