A chance to remember an underappreciated champion

April 12, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Kenny Perry won't be thinking about Julius Boros today in the final round of the Masters, but a potential win by the 54-hole co-leader is a great reason to pay tribute to the golfer he would displace as the oldest player to win a major championship.

At 48 years, eight months, Perry is about four months older than Boros was when he won the 1968 PGA Championship in searing heat at Pecan Valley CC in San Antonio. For Boros, that victory was a highlight in a career full of them.

An accountant by trade, Boros didn't turn pro until he was 29 but over the next quarter-century he compiled one of the best records in golf. He won the U.S. Open in 1951 and again in 1963, when at 43 he beat Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit in a playoff at Brookline to become, at the time, the championship's oldest winner. Between 1951 and 1965, Boros also had seven other top-five finishes in the U.S. Open, where his pioneering use of the flop shot (with a 56-degree wedge, mind you) and superb bunker play gave him an edge. Boros won 18 PGA Tour events and is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He died in 1994 at age 74.

He was a joy to watch, wasting little time once he got to his ball, his breezy, handsy swing grooved like few others. Noting the ease of Boros' action, Tony Lema said it looked "like a man dusting the furniture." Boros' instruction book has one of the best titles of all-time: Swing Easy, Hit Hard.

Not only did Boros win the PGA Championship at 48, but when he was 53 he was tied for the lead with 10 holes to play in the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 1973. And two years later, when he was 55, he came close to shattering Sam Snead's mark as oldest to win a PGA Tour event by losing a playoff to Gene Littler at Westchester.

If Perry's tempo and touch is anything like Boros' today, he will be in good stead.

-- *Bill Fields *