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Bellerive Country Club St. Louis, Missouri (Par 71/6,959 yards)


SENIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY KITCHENAID


A REMARKABLE LIST OF CHAMPIONS


The Senior PGA Championship has produced a plethora of worthy champions, topped by Sam Snead, who won in 1964, ’65, ’67, ’70, ’72 and ’73. Other champions from that era include future World Golf Hall of Fame members Tommy Bolt, Julius Boros and Roberto De Vicenzo.


Roger Chapman of England with his Alfred S. Bourne Trophy.


THE PGA OF AMERICA held its first PGA Championship in 1916 and it produced champions such as World Golf Hall of Fame members “Long Jim” Barnes, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Leo Diegel, Tommy Armour and Paul Runyan—all before 1937. But when the game’s organization, which has always been dedicated to professional golfers, and largely club and teaching pros, decided to hold a championship for senior professionals, it called upon the game’s greatest amateur, Bobby Jones, and his co-founder of the Augusta National Golf Club, Clifford Roberts, for help. They were welcomed with open arms.


Following his retirement from competitive golf, Jones longed to return home to Georgia and build a club with a national membership that would be focused upon his vision of the supreme test of golf. Roberts, who had been successful on Wall Street, would handle the money side of the affair. Unfortunately, their timing was atrocious. The club opened as the country was squeezed in the vise of the Great Depression. Jones and Roberts tried to convince the United States


92 PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2013


Golf Association to bring the U.S. Open to Augusta, but the game’s governing body politely begged off, citing the scorching June heat and humidity and their unwillingness to move their most-esteemed championship to either the spring or fall.


Enter the Senior PGA Championship, which debuted in 1937 and was played at Augusta National for two years before moving to the North Shore Country Club and Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota (FL). The inaugural Senior PGA Championship was won by Jock


“I can’t say it was fun to watch, but it was


impressive to watch.” – John Cook


Hutchison, who beat George Gordon. The next year, Freddie McLeod beat Otto Hackbarth. Given Augusta National’s abiding respect for tradition, it’s not surprising that Hutchison and McLeod were the longtime, beloved honorary starters at the Masters Tournament, who would hit the opening drives to the cheers of the large gallery that gathered early in the morning for the ceremony.


The championship was won by Don January in 1979 when he was one of the early Champions Tour’s dominant players, and then, in 1980, by Arnold Palmer, who made the championship his first Champions Tour victory. He won the title twice, in some small way making up for the PGA Championship that eluded him. In the years since, players such as Peter Thomson, Gary Player (three times), Chi Chi Rodriguez, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino (twice), Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin (three in four years and four in all) and Tom Watson each won the championship—Watson’s second title coming at age 61, making him the second-oldest winner of the championship behind Hutchison, who was 62 when he won again in 1947.


REMEMBER THIS?


Peter Thomson, the magnificent Australian who won five British Opens, once explained to a group of American writers why winning in the United States was so meaningful for international players:


“Americans win championships the way Hershey produces chocolates,” he said. “It is taken for granted. To come here and win a championship is something quite special for us.” So to England’s Roger Chapman, we say welcome and congratulations.


Chapman, who had never won on the Champions Tour, began the final round of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, in uncharted territory. He had a nine-stroke lead, clearly a comfortable cushion but one that can set your mind whirling. In Chapman’s case, his thoughts turned to his mentor and instructor, George Will, who had passed away two years earlier. “Your mind just starts to wander a bit,” Chapman said. “I was thinking of George all the way around—what he would be thinking.


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