Snead was still playing on the US Tour well into his sixties (see photo
above) and it is fair to say that no other golfer has enjoyed such a
long and fruitful career as the man from Hot Springs,Virginia. Snead's
81 PGA Tour victories is a record unlikely to be beaten and he is also
credited with 135 tournament wins world-wide,although the man himself
claims it to be nearer 165. Snead won seven majors during his
illustrious career but he was never to claim victory in the US Open. He
came agonisingly close on numerous occasions,including his first
appearance in 1937,when he finished in second place,just two strokes
behind the winner Ralph Guldahl.
Two years later at the Masters it was
that man Guldahl who stood in his way once again,this time victorious by
just one shot,and at the US Open that year there was a fifth place
finish. That does not tell the whole story,however,as going up the par-5
last Sam needed just a five to claim victory but,feeling that he need
to make a birdie,tried to hard and finished with an eight on his card.
Snead won his first major with his success at the 1942 PGA Championship
at Seaview,New Jersey with a 2&1 triumph over Jim Turnesa.
years later Sam won the first post-war Open,his rounds of 71,70,74 &
75 leaving him on a total of 290,and four shots clear of his nearest
rivals Johnny Bulla and Bobby Locke in an event played over the Old
Course at St Andrews. Despite his victory Sam claimed that he cared
little for the event,the course,the prize money,the food or even his
caddie! Hardly surprising,then,that it would be 16 years before he
returned to play in the event. (David Scranage).
The later years.
In 1947 there was yet another near miss at the US Open,Snead going
down in an 18-hole play-off to Lew Worsham by just one stroke with the
two men shooting 69 & 70 respectively. He won his third major and
first Masters in 1949,despite starting the tournament with rounds of 73
and 75. Sam finished in style with two rounds of 67 to claim a three
stroke victory from Johnny Bulla and Lloyd Mangrum. Later that year
Snead lifted his second PGA title courtesy of a 3&2 victory over
Johnny Palmer in the 36 hole final.
The US Open continued to slip though
his grasp,however,and he had to settle for yet another second place in
1949 to go along with his runner-up spots of 1937 & '47. The PGA was
captured for a third time in 1951,Walter Burkemo on the end of a
7&6 defeat in the final,whilst the following year Sam captured his
second Green Jacket. He was the only man under par in an event affected
on the final two days by high winds,his total of 286 leaving him four
shots to the good of Jack Burke jnr.
The US Open eluded him yet again in
1953,but the following year he won his seventh and last major when
victorious at the Masters for the third time. Snead was level on 289
with the legendary Ben Hogan after four rounds,but in the 18 hole
play-off the following day it was Sam who edged victory by the narrowest
of margins,with a 70 compared to Hogan's 71. Snead played in seven
Ryder Cup's between 1937-1959 and boasted a fine record of ten wins,one
half and two losses in his thirteen matches. In 1951,'59 and '69 he was
afforded the honour of captaining the American team. Sam Snead's
achievement of winning on the US Tour in four different decades is a
record matched only by Ray Floyd.
He is also the oldest man to win a
tour event,at nearly 53,and in the 1974 PGA Championship Snead finished
tied for third place at the age of 62. In 1979at the age of
67,Sam shot rounds of 73,71,71 and 73 in the PGA Championship to finish
ahead of the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Ray Floyd. He will quite
rightly be remembered as one of the true legends of the game. (David Scranage)