Number 50 Full of Engaging Tales

By George WhiteAugust 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
A man much wiser than me said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. I want to change that a little ' those who study history are prone to repeat it.
Tiger Woods now has 50 wins. And he definitely has studied the golf history books. His career continues to carve out an almost eerie resemblance to the man he is chasing for the major-title record ' Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus timeline matches that of Tiger more closely than of the other four men who won at least 50 victories.
Tiger won No. 50, the Buick Open in this, his 10th year as a professional at age 30. Nicklaus won his 50th in 1973 when he collected another major, the PGA Championship. It was Jacks 12th year as a pro.
Nicklaus was 33 that year. Number 50 was also hugely significant for Nicklaus in that it gave him the lead in majors won. His 14 major titles bested Bobby Jones record of 13 amateur and professional majors. Jones won four U.S. Opens, three British Opens, five U.S. Amateurs and one British Amateur playing until 1930. The Masters, which Jones inaugurated in 1934, was not in existence when he was still a fulltime player.
Tiger, by the way, also surpassed Jones in the amateur-professional majors won category this year. When he won the British Open in July, it was Woods 14th amateur-professional major. It was also Tigers 11th professional major, which ties him with Walter Hagen for second place behind Nicklaus 18.
Jacks personal life was far different from Tigers ' Jack had just fathered his fifth and final child when he won No. 50. Woods has only been married less than two years. Nicklaus son Gary was born July 24th in 73, making him a little more than two weeks old when Jack won the PGA for No. 50.
One other oddity connecting the two ' Nicklaus father Charley died in 1970 when Jack was 30. Tigers father Earl died this year ' when Tiger was 30.
Three other men who won at least 50 ' Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead ' mirror the number of years as a pro that it took Nicklaus to win 50.
Palmer was 37 and in his 12th year when he won No. 50, the 1967 Tucson Open. Palmer was in the Coast Guard for a time before he turned pro, then was a paint salesman. He became a pro at age 25 and eventually would win 62 times on the regular tour.
Snead, the all-time win leader with 82, was in his 13th year when he won the 50th. It came during a 10-win season in 1950 when the 36-year-old Snead won the Los Angeles Open. Snead was the leading money-winner that year when he won $35,758. Heres an oddity: Snead would make a hole-in-one with every club in the bag ' except the putter, of course - during his career.
Nelson won No. 50 in the 13th year of his career, the year after his great 1945 season when he won 11 straight and 18 over-all. The 50th came at the Columbus (Ohio) Invitational in 46 when he was 34, which also happened to be his final year as an active player. Nelson had won enough money to purchase what was his lifelong dream, a farm in North Texas.
He would win 52 titles in all, the final time when he came out of retirement to capture the Bing Crosby Invitational in 1951.

Ben Hogan won 64 times with No. 50 coming in 1949, also at the Crosby. It was at age 36 in the 18th year of his stop-and-start career.
Two weeks after he won the 50th, on Feb. 2, Hogan had the tragic auto accident which almost ended his life. He won the week following his No. 50th, this one at Long Beach. He lost to Jimmy Demaret in a playoff at Phoenix the following week and was returning to his Fort Worth home. Hogan and wife Valerie spent the night in the West Texas town of Van Horn and had just gotten under way early the next morning when they collided head-on with a Greyhound bus that had crossed the center line 19 miles out of town. Hogan never would fully recover, though he would win 14 more times.
Billy Casper won 51 times, No. 50 being the 1973 tournament in Hartford ' known then as the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open. Casper was by then 41 years old and in his 20th year as a professional.
Tiger Woods? Hes still a work in progress. Will he surpass Sneads 82? Will he beat Jacks 18 majors, 20 over-all? No one, of course, knows at the juncture. But this much is certain ' he reached No. 50 two years sooner than anyone else. And who knows where the wonderful journey will finally end?
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Related Links:
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.