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Patton nearly the 1954 Masters champion dies

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Billy Joe Patton, a career amateur who nearly won the Masters Tournament in 1954, died Jan. 1.

He was 88. No cause of death was listed, according to a news obituary in The News Herald of Morganton.

William Joseph Patton, known for his quick, powerful swing and his loquacious nature, was on of the game's greatest amateurs in the post-World War II era. A lumber broker in his native Morganton, Patton won three Carolinas Amateurs, three North & South Amateurs and two Southern Amateurs. He also played on five Walker Cup teams. In 1982, the USGA honored the Patton with the Bob Jones Award for sportsmanship.


Patton's biggest claim to fame, however, might be for a tournament that he failed to win: the '54 Masters.

In the final round, he made a hole-in-one at the par-3 sixth hole to surge into contention before hitting his second shot into Rae’s Creek at No. 13 en route to a double bogey, one of two water balls on the day. He would fall one shot short of a playoff between Ben Hogan and eventual champion Sam Snead.

Patton is survived by three children, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.