Oldest living Masters champion, Doug Ford, dies at age 95
The two-time major winner died this week in Florida
Former Masters champion Doug Ford died this week in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, at the age of 95. Ford turned pro in 1949 and won the 1955 PGA Championship. Then he took the Masters over Sam Snead in 1957. He went on to win a total of 19 PGA Tour events over the course of a great career.
His 1955 PGA was punctuated when he had his 10-year-old son tote around a chair for him to sit in while his match play opponent took forever to play (one of the great moves I've ever heard of!), but it was his Masters win two years later that resonated. Here's the New York Times.
Going into the final round at Augusta National Golf Club, Snead had been ahead of Ford by three shots. But the day would belong to Ford, whose charge to overtake Snead was punctuated by a pair of memorable shots.
Rejecting his caddie's recommendation that he use an iron on the 15th hole and lay up in front of a water hazard on his second shot, Ford chose a 3-wood for greater length and sent the ball over the water and onto the green. He two-putted for a birdie 4.
On the 18th hole, Ford had a plugged lie in a bunker, a predicament in which a ball is partly buried in sand. He holed out of the bunker, banking his shot off the green's slope for a six-under 66 in the final round.
Ford played in an era before golf was big on television and before money blew up. The year after Ford won the 1957 Masters, he nearly won it again but lost, controversially, to Arnold Palmer. Palmer would go on to win the money title that year, earning (wait for it), just over $42,000. That's less than 40th place got at last week's Players Championship.
So not only did Ford have a tremendous career, but he was also key in building the PGA Tour after it split from the PGA of America. Here's PGA Tour.com.
But to (Masters winner Bob) Goalby and other players of that era, Ford will always be fondly remembered for how he helped shape what is the PGA Tour and the PGA Tour Champions. "He was a tower of strength when (The Tournament Players Division) split from the PGA of America. We owe Doug thanks for that," Goalby said at Ford's Hall of Fame induction.
Ford played golf as much as he possibly could and was clearly beloved by his peers and colleagues. Golf is worse off with him gone, but he certainly will not be forgotten.
"We cherish the rich history of our PGA Tour, of which Doug Ford was an integral part," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a statement. "In an era when giants of the game were building the PGA Tour, Doug achieved remarkable success and never lost his unmatched love of the game. All of us owe a debt of gratitude to this great player."
Jackie Burke, Jr., also 95, is now the oldest living Masters champ.
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