Hagen Big Part of Ryder Cup History

By Associated PressSeptember 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- When Oakland Hills was selected as the site of the 35th Ryder Cup matches, the PGA of America chose more than one of America's golfing jewels. They selected the one-time home of the man who helped usher the competition into its present-day prominence.
Nine years before he captained America's first Ryder Cup team in 1927, Walter Hagen became the first golf professional at Oakland Hills, located in this affluent suburb 25 miles north of Detroit.
By then, Hagen already had won the U.S. Open - the first of his 11 major championships - and was well on his way to establishing himself as the world's best player of the roaring '20s.
The princely Hagen went on to serve as captain of the first six U.S. Ryder Cup squads, winning four times against Britain in the biennial matches. Hagen's admirers say it's appropriate, if only coincidental, the Ryder Cup will be played at a club that adopted the New York native more than 80 years ago.
Hagen lived for years at the Detroit Athletic Club and often attended Detroit Tigers baseball games. He is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in suburban Detroit.
'He was such a flamboyant and outgoing person, I think that had a great deal with helping promote the Ryder Cup in the early years,' Arnold Palmer, another former Ryder Cup captain, said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'He was probably the most outgoing of all the golfers.'
'Outgoing' might be a bit of an understatement for the gregarious Hagen, whose nickname, appropriately, was Sir Walter. He was a natty dresser, known for ordering silk shirts from Japan and shoes from England. On at least one occasion, he showed up at a tournament minutes before his starting time wearing a tuxedo. Turns out, he'd partied into the wee hours on a yacht that was late getting back to its berth.
Tall and handsome with slicked-back dark hair, Hagen stayed at Oakland Hills for only a year before setting out to play in tournaments and exhibitions worldwide. He became golf's first superstar, winning the U.S. Open twice, the British Open four times and the PGA championship five times.
In all, he won roughly 75 titles and is considered the first athlete to become a millionaire from competing at his sport. 'I never wanted to be a millionaire,' Hagen once remarked. 'I just wanted to live like one.'
Hagen excelled at match play - which pits one golfer against another - and was close to unbeatable in the 1920s.
He won the PGA Championship a record four straight times, his final trophy coming in 1927 with a 1-up victory over Joe Turnesa. That's when the Ryder Cup made its debut, and Hagen was a natural to lead the U.S. team because of his skill, his style and his popularity around the world.
Captains often played in the matches until 1963, and Hagen lost only one match in compiling a 7-1-1 record.
Still, Hagen often is remembered more for his deeds away from the course.
The son of a blacksmith, Hagen was at the forefront of charging large sums of money for playing in exhibitions and signing endorsement deals.
Palmer said one of Hagen's greatest contributions was opening clubhouses to professionals, who before Hagen's time were looked upon as second-class individuals behind amateur stars like Bobby Jones. Hagen wouldn't stand for such treatment. Doors began to open - literally - after he parked his limousine outside the clubhouse at a British Open and used it as his changing room.
'The fact that he did what he did and called attention to the things that all of us enjoy today - like the professional opportunity to be in the clubhouse - is the sort of thing Walter Hagen should be noted for,' said Palmer, who served as a pallbearer at Hagen's funeral in 1969.
Stephen Lowe, a history professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois who has written on Hagen's life, said Hagen traveled so much in the 1920s and 1930s that he never established a home anywhere and landed back in Detroit.
'He'd made some contacts at Oakland Hills, so this was where he wound up,' said Lowe, whose work notes that Hagen was twice divorced and had one son, Walter Jr.
Hagen's affinity for the outdoors eventually led him to northern Michigan, where he bought an estate near Traverse City in 1954 and lived out the rest of his life.
In 1967, two years before Hagen died at age 76, a group in Traverse City held a testimonial dinner in his honor. Ben Hogan and President Eisenhower were among those to wire words of congratulations, Lowe said, but the highlight of the dinner was a speech by Palmer, who noted Hagen's contributions to the game and underrated career.
Hagen, though, never seemed bothered by what others thought of his record. He was all about enjoying life, which he summed up in his most-noted line:
'Don't hurry, don't worry, and stop to smell the roses along the way.'
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
    Getty Images

    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

    Getty Images

    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

    Getty Images

    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”