Gene Sarazen (/ˈsɑːrəzɛn/; February 27, 1902 – May 13, 1999) was an American professional golfer, one of the world's top players in the 1920s and 1930s, and the winner of seven major championships. He is one of five players (along with Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods) to win each of the four majors at least once, now known as the Career Grand Slam: U.S. Open (1922, 1932), PGA Championship (1922, 1923, 1933), The Open Championship (1932), and Masters Tournament (1935).
Sarazen in 1922
|Full name||Eugenio Saraceni|
|Born||February 27, 1902|
Harrison, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 13, 1999 (aged 97)|
|Height||5 ft 5 1⁄2 in (166 cm)|
|Weight||162 lb (73 kg; 11.6 st)|
(m. 1924–86, her death)
|Children||Mary Ann, Gene Jr.|
|Former tour(s)||PGA Tour|
|Number of wins by tour|
|PGA Tour||39 (tied 11th all time)|
|Best results in major championships|
|Masters Tournament||Won: 1935|
|U.S. Open||Won: 1922, 1932|
|The Open Championship||Won: 1932|
|PGA Championship||Won: 1922, 1923, 1933|
|Achievements and awards|
|World Golf Hall of Fame||1974 (member page)|
|PGA Tour Lifetime|
|Bob Jones Award||1992|
Male Athlete of the Year
Born as Eugenio Saraceni in Harrison, New York, his parents were poor Sicilian immigrants. Sarazen began caddying at age ten at local golf clubs, took up golf himself, and gradually developed his skills; he was essentially self-taught. Somewhat novel at the time, he used the interlocking grip to hold the club.
Sarazen took a series of club professional jobs in the New York area from his mid-teens. In 1921 he became professional at Titusville (Pa.) Country Club, and he contracted to be the professional at Highland Country Club near Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1922. He arrived in April, stocked the golf shop and gave a few lessons, but spent most of his time at Oakmont Country Club practicing with Emil Loeffler. At some point, the pair visited Skokie Country Club to practice on the course that would hold the 1922 U.S. Open. In July, he came from four shots behind to win the tournament. He returned to Pittsburgh and was feted at the William Penn Hotel, where he burst from a paper mâché golf ball. He did not return to Highland CC, broke his contract and became a 'touring' golf professional. Later that summer, he won the 1922 PGA Championship at Oakmont.
He was a contemporary and rival of Bobby Jones, who was born in the same year; Sarazen also had many battles with Walter Hagen, who was nine years older. Sarazen, Jones, and Hagen were the world's dominant players during the 1920s. Rivalries among the three great champions significantly expanded interest in golf around the world during this period, and made the United States the world's dominant golf power for the first time, taking over this position from Great Britain. Sarazen has a plaque in his honour placed 195 yards out from the 15th green at Hororata Golf Club where he famously made a double eagle in the final round of sectional qualifiers. He earned his spot in his first United States open in 1920 at age 18. Some say it was his greatest achievement as an amateur.
The winner of 39 PGA tour events, Sarazen was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. He was the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1932, and won the PGA Tour's first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He played on six U.S. Ryder Cup teams: 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1937.
Sarazen claimed to have invented the modern sand wedge, and debuted the club (while keeping it secret during preliminary practice rounds) at The Open Championship at Prince's Golf Club in 1932 (which he won). He called it the sand iron, and his original club is no longer on display at Prince's as it is worth too much for the insurers to cover. However, a similar club was patented in 1928 by Edwin Kerr McClain, and it is possible Sarazen saw this club.
Sarazen had previously struggled with his sand play and there had been earlier sand-specific clubs. But Bobby Jones's sand club, for example, had a concave face, which actually contacted the ball twice during a swing; this design was later banned. Sarazen's innovation was to weld solder onto the lower back of the club, building up the flange so that it sat lower than the leading edge when soled. The flange, not the leading edge, would contact the sand first, and explode sand as the shot was played. The additional weight provided punch to power through the thick sand. Sarazen's newly developed technique with the new club was to contact the sand a couple of inches behind the ball, not actually contacting the ball at all on most sand shots.
Every top-class golfer since has utilized this wedge design and technique, and the same club design and method are also used by amateur players around the world. The sand wedge also began to be used by top players for shots from grass, shortly after Sarazen introduced it, and this led to a revolution in short-game techniques, along with lower scoring by players who mastered the skills.
Sarazen hit "the shot heard 'round the world" at Augusta National Golf Club on the fifteenth hole in final round of the Masters Tournament in 1935. He struck a spoon (the loft of the modern four wood) 235 yards (215 meters) into the hole, scoring a double eagle. At the time he was trailing Craig Wood by three shots, and was then tied with Wood. Sarazen parred the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth holes to preserve the tie. The following day, the pair played a 36 hole playoff, with Sarazen winning by five shots.
The Sarazen Bridge, approaching the left side of the fifteenth green, was named in 1955 to commemorate the double eagle's twentieth anniversary, which included a contest to duplicate, with the closest just over 4 feet (1.2 m) away. It remains one of the most famous shots in golf history.
In spite of his height of 5 ft 5 1⁄2 in (1.66 m), Sarazen was one of the longest hitters of his era. He played several lengthy exhibition tours around the world, promoting his skills and the sport of golf, and earned a very good living from golf. As a multiple past champion, he was eligible to continue competing after his best years were past, and occasionally did so in the top events, well into the 1960s, and occasionally into the 1970s. Throughout his life, Sarazen competed wearing knickers or plus-fours, which were the fashion when he broke into the top level.
For many years after his retirement, Sarazen was a familiar figure as an honorary starter at the Masters. From 1981 to 1999, he joined Byron Nelson and Sam Snead in hitting a ceremonial tee shot before each Masters tournament. He also popularized the sport with his role as a commentator on the Wonderful World of Golf television show, and was an early TV broadcaster at important events.
At age 71, Sarazen made a hole-in-one at The Open Championship in 1973, at the "Postage Stamp" at Troon in Scotland. In 1992, he was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Sarazen had what is still the longest-running endorsement contract in professional sports – with Wilson Sporting Goods from 1923 until his death, a total of 75 years.
He received an honorary degree in 1978 from Siena College, in Loudonville, New York. In 1998, shortly before his death, the Sarazen Student Union was named in his honor. He also established an endowed scholarship fund at the college, The Gene and Mary Sarazen Scholarship, which is awarded annually to students reflecting the high personal, athletic, and intellectual ideals of Dr. Sarazen. For many years, kitted in his signature plus-fours, he hit the first ball in an annual golf tournament, held to raise funds for the scholarship.
(missing one win)
Major championships are shown in bold.
this list may be incomplete
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner(s)-up|
|1922||U.S. Open||4 shot deficit||+8 (72-73-75-68=288)||1 stroke||Bobby Jones|
|1922||PGA Championship||n/a||4 & 3||Emmet French|
|1923||PGA Championship (2)||n/a||38 holes||Walter Hagen|
|1932||U.S. Open (2)||1 shot deficit||+6 (74-76-70-66=286)||3 strokes||Bobby Cruickshank, Philip Perkins|
|1932||The Open Championship||4 shot lead||−13(70-69-70-74=283)||5 strokes||Macdonald Smith|
|1933||PGA Championship (3)||n/a||5 & 4||Willie Goggin|
|1935||Masters Tournament||3 shot deficit||−6 (68-71-73-70=282)||Playoff 1||Craig Wood|
Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958
1 Defeated Craig Wood in a 36-hole playoff - Sarazen 144 (Even), Wood 149 (+5)
|The Open Championship||T41||2||T8|
|The Open Championship||T3||1||T3||T21||T5||CUT|
|The Open Championship||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT|
|The Open Championship||T17||T17||WD||T16|
|The Open Championship||WD|
|The Open Championship||CUT||CUT||WD|
NYF = tournament not yet founded
NT = no tournament
WD = withdrew
DNQ = did not qualify for match play portion
CUT = missed the half-way cut
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
|The Open Championship||1||1||2||5||6||10||17||11|
The 1921 PGA Championship was the fourth PGA Championship, held September 27 to October 1 on Long Island at Inwood Country Club in Inwood, New York. The match play field of 32 consisted of the defending champion and the top qualifiers from the 1921 U.S. Open. The competition was five rounds of 36-hole matches in a single-elimination tournament.Walter Hagen defeated Jim Barnes, 3 & 2, in the final, for the third of his eleven major titles. Barnes won the first two PGA titles in 1916 and 1919. Defending champion Jock Hutchison lost in the second round to Gene Sarazen, 8 & 7. Sarazen won consecutive titles in 1922 and 1923. After not entering in 1922 and losing the final in 1923, Hagen won four consecutive PGA Championships, starting in 1924.1922 PGA Championship
The 1922 PGA Championship was the fifth PGA Championship, held August 14–18 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh. The match play field of 64 competitors qualified by sectional tournaments. This was the first PGA Championship with a field of 64 in the bracket; the previous four had fields of 32 players. In the Friday final, Gene Sarazen defeated Emmet French, 4 & 3.Sarazen, age 20, also won the U.S. Open a month earlier near Chicago. Defending champion Walter Hagen did not enter this year due to exhibition engagements; the two champions met the following year in the finals, won by Sarazen.
This was the first of twelve major championships at Oakmont; three PGA Championships and nine U.S. Opens through 2016. It has hosted the U.S. Amateur five times and the U.S. Women's Open twice. The PGA Championship returned in 1951 and 1978.
Sarazen was the first of four players in history to win the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship in the same calendar year. He was followed by Ben Hogan in 1948 and Jack Nicklaus in 1980. Through 2012, Tiger Woods is the last to win both, in 2000, part of his Tiger Slam of four consecutive majors.1922 U.S. Open (golf)
The 1922 U.S. Open was the 26th U.S. Open, held July 14–15 at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago. Gene Sarazen won the first of his seven major championships, one stroke ahead of runners-up John Black and 20-year-old amateur Bobby Jones.Walter Hagen, the winner of the British Open three weeks earlier, opened with 68 to take a three-shot lead over Black on Friday morning. In the second round that afternoon, Black shot a 71 to take a two-stroke lead over Bill Mehlhorn, with Hagen and Sarazen another stroke back.Jones had an even-par 70 in the third round to take a share of the 54-hole lead with Mehlhorn, while Black's 75 left him one behind. The leaders could not contend with Sarazen's brilliant play in the final round, recording a two-putt birdie on the finishing hole for a 68 and 288 total. Black needed to par the final two holes to force a playoff, but his tee shot on 17 went out of bounds and led to a double bogey. Needing an eagle on the par-5 18th to tie, Black's second shot landed ten feet (3 m) from the pin, but in a greenside bunker. When he failed to hole out from the sand, Sarazen clinched the title.Sarazen, age 20, became the fourth American-born champion of the U.S. Open, joining John McDermott, Francis Ouimet, and Hagen. He won a second U.S. Open ten years later in 1932.1923 PGA Championship
The 1923 PGA Championship was the sixth PGA Championship, held September 24–29 in New York at Pelham Country Club in Pelham Manor, Westchester County. The field of 64 qualified by sectional tournaments, and competed in six rounds of match play, all at 36 holes in a single-elimination tournament.In the final match on Saturday, defending champion Gene Sarazen met 1921 winner Walter Hagen, who had skipped the event the previous year. Sarazen won in 38 holes for his second consecutive PGA Championship and the third of his seven major titles.
Even in strokes (77) and holes after the morning round, Sarazen was two up with three holes to play, but consecutive bogeys left them all square and the 36th hole was halved with par fours. Both birdied the first extra hole with fours and the next was a driveable par four, a short downhill dogleg, and both went for the green. Hagen's tee shot was only twenty feet (6 m) from the cup but in a bunker, while Sarazen was in the rough and fifty feet (15 m) out. Hagen failed to exit the sand with his second shot, while Sarazen pitched to four feet (1.2 m) and sank it for a birdie to win. Hagen rebounded and won the next four PGA Championships (1924–1927).1924 PGA Championship
The 1924 PGA Championship was the seventh PGA Championship, held September 15–20 at the French Lick Springs Golf Club in French Lick, Indiana. Walter Hagen, the 1921 champion, defeated Jim Barnes in the finals, 2 up. It was the sixth of Hagen's eleven major titles.
The victory ran Hagen's match record at the PGA Championship in the 1920s to 15–1 (.938), falling only to Gene Sarazen in 38 holes in the 1923 finals. It was the first of Hagen's four consecutive PGA Championships; through 2013, no other player was won more than two consecutive titles.
Barnes had won the first two titles in 1916 and 1919.
The field of 32 for match play was determined by the 36-hole stroke play qualifier on Monday, September 15. All matches were 36 holes, in a five-round single-elimination tournament. Two-time defending champion Sarazen lost in the second round to semifinalist Larry Nabholtz, 2 & 1.Opened in 1917, the course was designed by Donald Ross. It is currently known as The Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort, and underwent a $4.5 million renovation in 2006.1926 PGA Championship
The 1926 PGA Championship was the ninth PGA Championship, held September 20–25 at Salisbury Golf Club on Long Island in East Meadow, New York. Then a match play championship, Walter Hagen defeated Leo Diegel 5 & 3 in the finals to win his third consecutive PGA Championship, his fourth overall, and the eighth of his eleven major titles.
The victory ran Hagen's match record at the PGA Championship in the 1920s to 25–1 (.962), falling only to Gene Sarazen in 38 holes in the 1923 finals. With his third consecutive title, his winning streak stood at fifteen matches. Hagen was also the medalist in the 36-hole qualifier on Monday at 140 (–4). Through 2013, he remains the only winner of three consecutive PGA Championships.
Hagen won the following year in 1927 for his fourth consecutive title, but Diegel stopped the streak in 1928 and repeated in 1929. In both years, Diegel defeated both Hagen and Gene Sarazen, the only winners of the title from 1921 through 1927, in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Hagen had previously stopped Diegel in the 1925 quarterfinals in 40 holes.
Devereux Emmet designed the course in 1914. The 90-hole Salisbury Golf Club ran into financial difficulty during the 1930s and its land was acquired by Nassau County. Originally "Nassau County Park at Salisbury" in 1944, it was renamed Eisenhower Park in 1969. The 1926 venue presently exists as the Red Course; it hosted the Commerce Bank Championship on the Champions Tour as recently as 2008. Eisenhower Park also includes two additional 18-hole courses, Blue and White.1927 PGA Championship
The 1927 PGA Championship was the 10th PGA Championship, held October 31 to November 5 in Texas at Cedar Crest Country Club in Dallas. Then a match play championship, Walter Hagen defeated Joe Turnesa 1 up in the finals to win his fourth consecutive PGA Championship, his fifth and final overall, and the ninth of his eleven major titles.
The victory ran Hagen's match record at the PGA Championship in the 1920s to 30–1 (.968), falling only to Gene Sarazen in 38 holes in the 1923 finals. With his fourth consecutive title, his winning streak stood at twenty matches. Hagen, age 34, was also the medalist in the 36-hole qualifier on Monday at 141 (–1).The course, south of downtown Dallas, was designed by A. W. Tillinghast and opened in 1919. It hosted the Dallas Open less than two years earlier in January 1926, won by Macdonald Smith. The country club closed in 1929 and the course was purchased by the City of Dallas in 1946 and it continues as a public facility.
At the time, this was the furthest west and south that a major championship had been held. The western limit had been Illinois for multiple majors, and the southern-most venues had been Indiana for the PGA Championship in 1924 and Maryland for the U.S. Open in 1921. Two years later in 1929, the PGA Championship was played in Los Angeles, California.1927 U.S. Open (golf)
The 1927 U.S. Open was the 31st U.S. Open, held June 14–17 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh. Tommy Armour defeated Harry Cooper in an 18-hole playoff to win the first of his three major titles.
The surprise second round leader was amateur Jimmy Johnston, who won the U.S. Amateur two years later in 1929. In the third round on Thursday morning, he suffered two double bogeys on the front-nine, carded an 87 (+15), and finished in 19th place. Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen, Bill Mehlhorn, and Emmet French were all in contention in the final round, but only French managed to break 40 on the back nine. Tommy Armour shot a final round 76 and 301 total, while Harry Cooper shot 77. Armour needed a 10-foot (3 m) putt for birdie on the par-4 18th to tie Cooper and force a playoff. Neither player managed to break par during any round in the tournament.Both players were tied after nine holes of the Friday playoff, even though they only halved one hole. Cooper then took a two-shot lead, but an Armour birdie at 13 and a Cooper bogey at 15 brought the match to all square. On the 16th, Cooper found a bunker off the tee and recorded a double bogey, while Armour made par to gain a two-stroke advantage did not relinquish. Armour finished with a 76 to Cooper's 79.Armour's winning score of 301 was the highest since 1919, and the last time the winning score exceeded 300 strokes. Only one round under 70 was recorded, Al Espinosa's 69 in the final round. After Armour, no foreign-born player won the U.S. Open for another 38 years, until Gary Player in 1965. England's Ted Ray, the 1920 champion, played in his first Open since his win; it would also be his last. The 12th hole at Oakmont measured 621 yards (568 m), the longest in U.S. Open history until 1955.
While Armour won two more majors, Cooper never won one. His 31 PGA Tour victories are the most by a player without a major win, and he is often cited as the "best player to never win a major."
Defending champion Bobby Jones and Eddie Jones shared low-amateur honors and tied for eleventh. It was the only time in his eleven U.S. Open appearances that Bobby Jones finished outside the top ten.
This was the first U.S. Open held at Oakmont, which hosted its ninth in 2016. It has also hosted three PGA Championships; the first in 1922 was a match play event won by Gene Sarazen.
This was the last U.S. Open to commence on Tuesday; the following year the first round was scheduled for Thursday.1928 PGA Championship
The 1928 PGA Championship was the 11th PGA Championship, held October 1–6 at the Five Farms Course of the Baltimore Country Club in Lutherville, Maryland, north of Baltimore. Then a match play championship, Leo Diegel defeated Al Espinosa 6 & 5 in the finals to win the first of his two consecutive titles.Prior to the finals, Diegel defeated both Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, the winners of the previous seven PGA Championships, in the two preceding matches. He prevailed 2 & 1 over nemesis Hagen in the quarterfinals and 9 & 8 over Sarazen in the semifinals. Diegel had lost to Hagen in the 1925 quarterfinals (40 holes) and the 1926 finals.
Five-time champion Hagen had won 22 consecutive matches and four straight titles at the PGA Championship. Prior to his loss to Diegel in the quarterfinals, his match record in the 1920s was 32–1 (.946), falling only to Sarazen in 38 holes in the 1923 finals.
The Five Farms Course, now the East Course, was designed by A. W. Tillinghast and opened two years earlier in September 1926.Diegel continued the tradition of repeat champions and successfully defended his title in 1929.1930 PGA Championship
The 1930 PGA Championship was the 13th PGA Championship, held September 8–13 in New York City at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Flushing, Queens. Then a match play championship, Tommy Armour defeated Gene Sarazen 1 up in the finals for the second of his three major titles.Johnny Farrell and Horton Smith were co-medalists at 145 (+5) in the 36-hole stroke play qualifier on Monday. Two-time defending champion Leo Diegel lost in the second round to Harold Sampson in 38 holes, ending his bid for a third straight title. Runner-up Sarazen was the club pro at Fresh Meadow; he previously won the PGA Championship in 1922 and 1923.During the 36-hole Monday qualifier, Diegel shot 81 in the morning round and was in danger of not advancing to match play. He followed up with a 69 (–1) in the afternoon and his 150 (+10) put him only five strokes behind the medalists, in a tie for 8th place, easily within the top 32. Starting in 1931, the defending champion was exempt from qualifying.
The course where this PGA Championship was played in Queens no longer exists. Designed by A. W. Tillinghast, it opened in 1923 and also hosted the U.S. Open in 1932, won by Sarazen. Under increasing development and tax pressure, the Fresh Meadow Country Club sold the property in 1946, which was developed as a residential neighborhood (the Fresh Meadows section of Queens). The club then purchased the property, clubhouse, and golf course of the defunct Lakeville Golf & Country Club in Lake Success, its current home.1931 PGA Championship
The 1931 PGA Championship was the 14th PGA Championship, held September 14–19 at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island, northeast of Providence. Then a match play championship, Tom Creavy, age 20, defeated Gene Sarazen 5 & 3 in the semifinals and Denny Shute 2 & 1 in the finals.This was the first year the defending champion was exempt from qualifying; Tommy Armour lost in the quarterfinals to Shute, 3 & 1. Sarazen was the medalist in the qualifying with 145 (+5).Through 2016, Sarazen remains the youngest winner of a modern major title at age 20 (in 1922) and Creavy was just 2 months older. Finalist Shute won consecutive titles in 1936 and 1937.1933 PGA Championship
The 1933 PGA Championship was the 16th PGA Championship, held August 8–13 at Blue Mound Country Club in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb west of Milwaukee. Then a match play championship, Gene Sarazen won the third of his three PGA Championship titles, defeating Willie Goggin 5 & 4. It was the sixth of his seven major titles.
Defending champion Olin Dutra lost in the second round to semifinalist Johnny Farrell, 1 up.This was Wisconsin's first and only major for 71 years; the PGA Championship returned to the state in 2004 at Whistling Straits near Kohler.1934 PGA Championship
The 1934 PGA Championship was the 17th PGA Championship, held July 24–29 at Park Country Club in Williamsville, New York, a suburb northeast of Buffalo. Then a match play championship, Paul Runyan won the first of his two PGA Championship titles, defeating Craig Wood in 38 holes.Defending champion Gene Sarazen lost 4 & 3 in the second round to Al Watrous.1935 Masters Tournament
The 1935 Masters Tournament was the second Masters Tournament, then still known as the "Augusta National Invitation Tournament," held April 4–8 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
In a change from the first year, the nines were switched to their present order, with the finishing hole at "Holly." In the fourth round, Gene Sarazen holed a double eagle (235 yards, 4 wood) to tie Craig Wood and force a 36-hole playoff. This second shot at "Firethorn," the par-5 15th hole, then 485 yards (443 m), is referred to in golf as the "shot heard 'round the world."
Sarazen won the Monday playoff by five strokes, even-par 144 to 149 (+5), and parred the 15th hole in both rounds. Tournament co-founder and host Bobby Jones finished at 297, fifteen strokes back in a tie for 25th place. The purse was $5,000 and the winner's share was $1,500.Agua Caliente Open
The Agua Caliente Open was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour first played in 1930 in Tijuana, Mexico. The inaugural event, which was won by Gene Sarazen, offered the largest purse to date — $25,000 with a $10,000 winner's share. The tournament had a second incarnation briefly in the 1950s with the last two events played under the name Tijuana Open Invitational.Jun Classic
The Gene Sarazen Jun Classic has been a golf tournament on the Japan Golf Tour from 1977 to 1999. It was played at the Jun Classic Country Club and the Rope Club in Tochigi Prefecture.List of Caddie Hall of Fame inductees
The following list shows inductees into the Caddie Hall of Fame, which was founded by the Professional Caddies Association in 1999. In 2011, the Western Golf Association began administering the Caddie Hall of Fame.Miami Beach Open
The Miami Beach Open was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour in the late 1920s and again in the 1950s. It was held at several different courses in the Miami Beach, Florida area.Southern (Spring) Open
The Southern (Spring) Open was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour, played only in 1922 at the New Orleans Country Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gene Sarazen won the event with a four-round total of 294 (+10), beating Leo Diegel by eight strokes. It was Sarazen's first PGA Tour win.