Former PGA Champ Chandler Harper Dies


PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- Chandler Harper, who won the 1950 PGA Championship and was a major figure in Virginia golf for more than 70 years, died Monday. He was 90.
Harper died of complications from pneumonia, said two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, who as a teenage was taught by Harper.
Harper won 10 other PGA Tour events and played on the 1955 Ryder Cup team. He was elected to the PGA of American Hall of Fame in 1968 and inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1973.
'He was not a guru like today's gurus. He taught as a player,' Strange said. 'One thing I remember about him is he never subdued my enthusiasm. He was from the old school, and he was always good to me.'
Despite a limited tour schedule, Harper was involved in some historic events.
He set what was then a PGA Tour record by taking only 20 putts in his third-round 63 when he won the 1950 Tucson Open. After opening with a 70 in the 1954 Texas Open, he closed with three straight rounds of 63. Only three other men have shot 189 over three rounds; the last one to do it was Tommy Armour III last year in the Texas Open.
The highlight of his career came at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, where Harper beat Bob Toski, Lloyd Mangrum and Jimmy Demaret to reach the finals of the 1950 PGA Championship. He easily defeated Henry Williams Jr., 4 and 3, in the 36-hole final.
Strange was 14 when his father died of cancer and Harper became his mentor. Strange went on to win 17 times on the PGA Tour and is the last man to have won back-to-back U.S. Open titles.
'When you're 14 and you need help, he was the man who stepped in,' said Strange, who continued to work with Harper into the early 1980s. 'He was a big deal to a kid.'
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