News emerged on Thursday morning from South Africa that 1994 U.S. Senior Open champion Simon Hobday had died at 76 after a prolonged period of poor health.
Hobday won 17 times in a professional career that began in 1969 and the renowned ball-striker won five titles on the Champions Tour between 1993 and 1995, including his major at Pinehurst, where he finished one ahead (66-67-66-75) of Graham Marsh and Jim Albus to win a USGA medal.
Hobday was born in South Africa but grew up in Zambia, where he became the country’s leading amateur, representing the nation at the 1966 Eisenhower Trophy before his maiden pro victory at the 1971 South African Open, holding off Gary Player to win by one.
A hugely charismatic figure in golf, Hobday was legendary for his off-course antics, prompting Player to remark before the final round, “Simon, you really should take this game more seriously. You have a lot of talent, and if you put in the effort and went to bed nice and early, you could go far.” To which Hobday instantly replied, “Gary, you’re right. My father always told me that if I’m not in bed by nine I should go home.”
A tweet from Player’s timeline read: “My condolences to the charismatic & sweet swinging Simon Hobday. He was so good for golf. RIP amigo.”
Before his first round of the Tshwane Open in Pretoria today (a co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event) 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman shared his memories of Hobday. “It’s a sad day to lose such a legend, but I am smiling because he was always willing to see the lighter side of golf and life. Simon was great to be around, and growing up in the 1980s I always watched his beautiful compact swing with awe during Sunshine Tour events.”
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