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Sam Snead


Sam Snead in 1947

Sam Snead in 1947.

Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Sam Snead in 1996

Sam Snead in 1996.

J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

Sam Snead is one of the giants of golf, a golfer who remained competitive at the highest levels well into his 60s and died as the all-time leader in PGA Tour wins.

Date of birth: May 27, 1912
Place of birth: Hot Springs, Virginia
Date of death: May 23, 2002
Nickname: Slammin' Sam, or just "Slammer" (because he hit the ball far)

PGA Tour Victories:

(Snead won an estimated 160 professional tournaments in all.)

Major Championships:

• Masters: 1949, 1952, 1954
• British Open: 1946
• PGA Championship: 1942, 1949, 1951

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Recipient, PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award
• PGA Tour money leader, 1938, 1949, 1950
• PGA Tour Vardon Trophy winner, 1938, 1949, 1950, 1955
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1937, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1959
• U.S. Ryder Cup captain, 1951, 1959, 1969

Quote, Unquote:

Sam Snead: "Keep close count of your nickels and dimes, stay away from whiskey, and never concede a putt."

Sam Snead: "If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they'd starve to death."

Sam Snead: "Thinking instead of acting is the number-one golf disease."

Sam Snead: "Practice puts brains in your muscles."

Tim Finchem: "No one will ever duplicate Sam Snead. No one will ever surpass Sam Snead because he was so unique."

More Sam Snead Quotes


• Sam Snead holds the PGA Tour record for most wins in a single event. He won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times, the first in 1938 and the last in 1965 when he was 52 (making him the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event). Tiger Woods later tied Snead's record. - see most wins in same tournament.

• Snead won 27 times on tour before getting his first major championship title.

• From 1984 to 2002, Snead hit the honorary opening tee shot at The Masters. He was joined by Byron Nelson until 2001 and by Gene Sarazen until 1999.

• On May 16, 1959, Snead carded a round of 59 in the Greenbrier Open, a regional pro-am played at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. This is generally recognized as the first 59 recorded during tournament play, although it wasn't a PGA Tour event.

Sam Snead Biography:

Sam Snead won 82 PGA Tour events, more than anyone else, and he did it with a remarkably fluid and graceful swing. "The most fluid motion ever to grace a golf course," Jack Nicklaus said. "Watching Sam Snead practice hitting balls," another golfer said, "is like watching a fish practice swimming."

Snead grew up in backwoods Virginia during the Depression and taught himself to play golf using clubs carved from tree limbs by his father. He never lost sight of his home, returning to Virginia throughout his life.

Snead was an extremely gifted athlete, so gifted that even into his 70s he could still kick the top of a door frame. And although he could rub his fellow pros the wrong way sometimes - Snead could be rude, crude and difficult to deal with - for the public he had a folksy image embellished by his trademark straw hat and homespun wit.

Snead burst onto the PGA Tour in 1937, wowing with long drives that earned him the nickname "Slammin' Sam," and winning five times. The following year he won eight tournaments and the money title.

In 1942, he won his first major at the PGA Championship. He would go on to win the PGA three times total, one British Open, and three Masters (including a memorable 18-hole playoff victory over Ben Hogan in 1954).

In 1950, Snead won 11 times, the last PGA Tour golfer to post double-digit victories in a single season.

While Snead won seven majors, he never could win the U.S. Open, although he finished second four times. In 1939, needing par to win, he scored 8 on the 72nd hole. In 1949, Snead missed a 2 1/2-foot putt on the final playoff hole to lose to Lew Worsham.

His record in eight Ryder Cups was a sterling 10-2-1, and he captained three Ryder Cup teams.

Snead was one of the best "old" golfers ever, remaining competitive into his 60s. At age 62 he finished third in the 1974 PGA Championship; at age 67, he posted rounds of 67 and 66 at the Quad Cities Open. He also won six Senior PGA Championship titles and five World Seniors Championships.

In 1983, at age 71, he shot 60 at his home course, The Homestead.

Sam Snead was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. His newphew, J.C. Snead, was also a winner on the PGA Tour.

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