Sarazen's double eagle put Masters on the map

By Martin DavisMarch 31, 2012, 2:00 pm

It was called the “shot heard ‘round the world.”

No, not the one at Concord’s Old North Bridge in 1775 that ignited the American Revolutionary War and launched a new country – this one happened in Augusta, Ga., in 1935, some 160 years later.

But to a golfer, this shot was almost as significant, as it vaulted the Masters Tournament into the big time.

This shot wasn’t taken with a musket, but by Gene Sarazen (pictured above receiving the winner's check from the 1935 Masters) with his 4-wood – it was called a spoon then – from 235 yards on the 15th hole in the fourth round. It flew straight as any shot in Lexington and Concord and found the cup for the rarest one of all – a double eagle – a 2 on a par-5 hole!

By the time Sarazen reached the 1935 Masters, the second one played, he was already an established star.

Born Eugenio Saracini in Harrison, N.Y., in 1902, he later changed his name to Gene Sarazen because he felt it sounded like a golfer’s name, as opposed to his birth name that he thought better suited to an opera singer. Dropping out of school in the sixth grade, Sarazen caddied at the nearby Apawamis Club where he reportedly saw Harold Hilton – the winner of four British Amateurs and two British Opens – win the 1911 U.S. Amateur.

As a 20-year old he won the U.S. Open at Skokie in 1922, shooting a 68 in the final round, the first player to shoot under 70 to win. He added the PGA Championship at Oakmont later that year. With great bravado he challenged golf’s supreme showman, Walter Hagen, to a 72-hole event for the “world championship,” and won. Repeating his victory in the PGA the next year, Sarazen won numerous tournaments in the ensuing years – his total eventually reaching 39 PGA Tour victories. In 1932, on the strength of his new-fangled invention, the sand wedge, he won the British Open at Sandwich, then the U.S. Open at Fresh Meadow, for a historic double in the world’s two major Open Championships. In 1933 he added a third PGA at Blue Mound in Wisconsin.

The 1935 Masters featured an incredibly strong field of 64. All four of the reigning U.S. national champions were entered – Olin Dutra, Open; Lawson Little, Amateur; Paul Runyon, PGA; and Charlie Yates, Intercollegiate (NCAA). There were also nine former National Open champs, including the sainted Bobby Jones, and two former British Open victors. It was quite a formidable field, fitting for what would ultimately become America’s most cherished golf tournament.

The fourth round started with Craig Wood leading at 209, on the strength of a 4-under 68 the previous day. Olin Dutra was second at 210, Henry Picard third on 211 and Gene Sarazen fourth with 212.

Dutra, with a 42 on the front, shot himself out of the tournament, despite a stellar 32 on the back, ultimately finishing third. Picard, paired with Wood, shot a 38 on the front en route to a 75 and fourth place.

Ultimately, only Sarazen stood to challenge Wood.

With a 39 on the front, Wood missed a 20-inch putt on the 10th for bogey. He then went on one of the great rallies of the tournament, making three birdies in a row – the 13th, 14th and 15th – before bogeying the 16th and, with a final flourish, birdied the 18th, to finish with a 73 and a 282 total.

Sarazen, paired with his pal and rival Walter Hagen, was playing an hour behind Wood. Even par on the ninth tee before making a bad bogey-5 for a 1-over-par 37 on the front, Sarazen was only one behind Wood at that point. On the 14th tee, Sarazen, two behind Wood now, hooked his drive into the rough leaving some 200 yards to the mounded, undulating uphill green. Hearing a distant roar from the area of the 18th green, word quickly reached the duo that Wood had birdied the final hole to extend his lead to three. Now Sarazen needed three birdies over the last five holes to simply tie Wood. Tough? Yes. Doable? Maybe.

O.B. Keeler, reporting in The American Golfer, related the needling byplay between the two friends:

Hagen: “Well Gene, that looks like it’s all over.”

Sarazen: “Oh, I don’t know. They might go in from anywhere.”

It is almost a cliché to say truer words may never have been spoken.

Sarazen proceeded to hit his first great 4-wood of the day as he ripped the ball out of the left rough, reaching the green, but ultimately leaving a putt of some 100 feet. Two putting for a par – the second one of some 6 feet – he came to the fateful 15th hole and his date with golf immortality.

Hitting a fine drive of some 265 yards to the right side of the 15th fairway, Sarazen had a full 4-wood of some 230 yards off a close, wet lie in cold, heavy air to a green fronted by water.

Jones, perhaps realizing the moment, decided to come down from the clubhouse to see if Sarazen could catch Wood, thinking he needed three birdies coming in to force a playoff. He reached Sarazen and Hagen just as a young Byron Nelson, playing the adjacent 17th hole, pushed his drive near where Sarazen’s ball had come to rest.

So, all four of those ultimately on golf’s Mount Olympus – the hallowed Jones, the flamboyant Hagen and the soon-to-be great Nelson, watched as Sarazen’s arrow-like 4-wood hit a foot before the green, “…bounded once - twice - and settled to a smooth roll, while the ripple of sound from the big gallery went sweeping into a crescendo – and then the tornado broke,” according to Keeler.

Eugenio Saracini, now the golfer Gene Sarazen, had made all three birdies with one swing of his now magical 4-wood.

In an almost anti-climatic 36-hole playoff the next day, Sarazen defeated Wood by five strokes, 144 to 149.

No less an authority than Grantland Rice, America’s first great sports writer and a founding member of Augusta National, called it “ … the most thrilling single golf shot ever played.”

Even now, with the passage of 75 Masters Tournaments, one can clearly say without equivocation or hyperbole that Rice’s simple assessment of Sarazen’s shot is as appropriate today as it was in 1935.

It may have been Jones’ reputation for sterling play and sportsmanship that leant credibility and panache to this new tournament, but it was Sarazen who indelibly put the Masters on the map for all time with his “shot heard ‘round the world.”

 Martin Davis is Golf Channel’s historian and the author or editor of some 25 books on golf.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.