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At the U.S. Open, Sam Snead Was Often a Bridesmaid

Phil Mickelson will take a look at once more this week at Pebble Seashore for that elusive United States Open identify, which might give him the Profession Grand Slam.

His close to misses, together with Pinehurst in 1999, Winged Foot in 2006 and Merion in 2013, were neatly chronicled. He has completed moment a report six occasions.

Mickelson, who turns 49 on Sunday, is in just right corporate. Sam Snead, who additionally used to be top-of-the-line to have performed the sport, used to be not able to seize an Open. He got here in moment 4 occasions: 1937, 1947, 1949 and 1953.

There used to be additionally the heartbreak of 1939.

That yr, at the Spring Mill process the Philadelphia Nation Membership, Snead, recognized for his gorgeous swing, used to be it appears main through a shot going into the general gap, a par five. Make a five, and he would possibly be the champion.

Simplest Snead believed that he wanted a birdie. There have been no scoreboards then. So after hooking his pressure into the tough, he pulled out a two-wood as an alternative of laying up within the fairway.

The ball got here to leisure in a bunker about 110 yards from the fairway. Now he had motive for worry. He went with an eight-iron and ended up through some freshly laid sod close to the bunker’s lip. His subsequent shot discovered any other bunker.

He went directly to report a triple-bogey eight to complete 5th, two strokes at the back of Byron Nelson, Denny Shute and Craig Picket; Nelson would be successful in a playoff.

Snead used to be overwhelmed.

“That evening, I used to be able to move out with a gun and pay any individual to shoot me,” he stated in his ebook, “Slammin’ Sam.” “It weighed on my thoughts such a lot that I dropped 10 kilos, misplaced extra hair and started to choke up even on apply rounds.”

Rapid-forward to the 1947 Open and St. Louis Nation Membership.

With a birdie at the 72nd gap, Snead pressured an 18-hole playoff the following day with Lew Worsham. The 2 have been nonetheless tied as they reached the general gap.

Snead, dealing with a birdie putt for the win, left the ball about 30 inches brief. He walked towards his ball to knock it in for a par.

Now not so rapid.

Worsham, additionally with a brief strive for par, requested Ike Grainger of the USA Golfing Affiliation to resolve who must move first, which Grainger did with a measuring tape.

Snead used to be no longer overjoyed.

“You need to see the steam popping out of Sam,” stated James Dodson, the writer of “American Triumvirate,” a ebook about Snead, Nelson and Ben Hogan, relating to a photograph from that day. “He’s status there, the putter through his aspect, with this impatient stare that claims, ‘That is completely a sin in opposition to nature.’”

As soon as Grainger made up our minds that Snead used to be an inch farther away than Worsham, Snead went first, however neglected the putt. Worsham sank his putt for the victory.

As disappointed as he used to be over the prolong, Snead, in step with a pal, Jack Vardaman, took accountability. “He stated, ‘I neglected the putt.’”

As for his two second-place finishes after St. Louis, Snead misplaced through a shot to Cary Middlecoff in 1949 and, in 1953, trailed Hogan through one heading into the general spherical, however shot a 76 to lose through six. In 1937, Ralph Guldahl defeated him through two.

So does Snead’s incapacity to win the Open have an effect on how prime he must rank a few of the sport’s best possible? Curtis Ordinary, who received the Open in 1988 and 1989, stated it did.

“The Open holds him again,” Ordinary stated. “If he has the U.S. Open, he’s no longer an 8 or 9 or 10 man; he’s perhaps a 5 – 6 man.”

Snead’s identify has arise so much just lately as a result of Tiger Woods, along with his win on the Masters, has 81 excursion victories, one shy of Snead’s report. Of his 82 wins, seven have been majors.

“It’s made Sam related once more,” stated Ordinary, who idolized him rising up. “And making Sam related has taught the more youthful era how nice he truly used to be.”

Snead, who died in 2002 at age 89, used to be fatalistic about his Open disasters, Vardaman stated.

“He mentioned the way it used to be predestined for him to by no means win the Open,” Vardaman stated. “It used to be virtually like the great Lord stated, ‘I’m going to mean you can win so much, however I’m no longer going to mean you can win the Open.’”

The scars perhaps by no means absolutely healed. Dodson used to be enjoying golfing with Snead within the early 1990s when he requested if the Open losses harm him so much.

“He simply stopped,” Dodson stated, “and checked out me and stated, ‘What do you suppose?’”

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