At the US Open, Sam Snead was often a bridesmaid

Posted by on June 13, 2019  /   Posted in golf reviews

Phil Mickelson will try again at Pebble Beach this week for that elusive title in the United States that would earn him the Career Grand Slam.

His near misses, including Pinehurst in 1999, Winged Foot in 2006 and Merion in 2013, have been well described. He finished sixth second.

Mickelson, who turns 49 on Sunday, is good company. Sam Snead, who was also one of the best to have played the game, was unable to capture an Open. He came in second place four times: 1937, 1947, 1949 and 1953.

There was also the heartbreak of 1939.

That year, on the Spring Mill course of the Philadelphia Country Club, Snead, known for his beautiful swing, apparently led a shot in the last hole, a par 5. Make a 5, and he would most likely be the champion.

Only Snead believed he needed a little bird. There were no scoreboards then. So after pulling his ride in the rough, he got a two-wood instead of lying in the fairway.

The ball came to a halt in a bunker about 100 meters from the green. Now he had cause for concern. He went with an eight-iron and ended up at a newly laid sod at the edge of the bunker. His next shot found another bunker.

He continued to record a triple bogey 8 to finish fifth, two strokes behind Byron Nelson, Denny Shute and Craig Wood; Nelson would triumph in a play-off.

Snead was crushed.

"That night I was ready to go out with a gun and pay someone to shoot me," he said in his book, "Slammin & # 39; Sam." "It weighed so much in my mind that I lost 10 pounds, lost more hair and even choked on practice rounds."

Fast forward to Open and St. 1947 Louis Country Club.

With a bird on the 72nd hole, Snead forced an 18-hole play-off the next day with Lew Worsham. The two were still tied when they reached the last hole.

Snead, opposite a birdie-putt for the win, left the ball about 30 centimeters short. He walked in the direction of his ball to a par.

Not so fast.

Worsham, also with a brief attempt at par, asked Ike Grainger of the United States Golf Association to determine who should go first, what Grainger did with a tape measure.

Snead was not enthusiastic.

"You could see the steam coming from Sam," said James Dodson, the author of "American Triumvirate," a book about Snead, Nelson and Ben Hogan, referring to a photo of that day. "He is standing there, the putter next to him, with this impatient look that says: & # 39; This is definitely a sin against nature. & # 39;"

As soon as Grainger decided that Snead was an inch farther away than Worsham, Snead went first, but missed the putt. Worsham sunk his putt for the win.

As upset as he was about the delay, Snead took responsibility, according to a friend, Jack Vardaman. "He said," I missed the putt. "

Regarding his two second places after St. Louis, Snead lost by a shot to Cary Middlecoff in 1949 and in 1953 Hogan followed with one heading in the final round, but lost a 76 by losing six. In 1937, Ralph Guldahl beat him with two.

And does Snead's inability to win open influence how high he must be among the best in the game? Curtis Strange, who won the Open in 1988 and 1989 that it did.

"The Open stops him," said Strange. "If he has the American Open, he is not eight or nine or ten men; he may be a man of five or six. "

Snead & # 39; s name has come to mind a lot since Tiger Woods, with his victory at the Masters, achieved 81 wins, a bit shy in Snead's record. Of his 82 wins, seven were majors

"It made Sam relevant again," said Strange, who grew him up. "And by making Sam relevant, the younger generation learned how good he really was."

Snead, who died in 2002 at the age of 89 was fatalistic about his Open failures, Vardaman said.

"He explained how it was destined for him to never win the Open," Vardaman said. as if the good Lord said: & # 39; I will let you win much, but I will not let you win the Open. & # 39; "

The scars may never be completely healed. Dodson played in the early nineties golf with Snead when he asked if the Open losses hurt him a lot.

& # 39; He just stopped & # 39 ;, said Dodson, & # 39; and looked at me and said: & # 39; What do you think? ? & # 39; "

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