Legendary amateur golfer Robert Tyre Jones Jr. ("Bobby" Jones), born March 17, 1902, would have turned 112 years old today.
Jones "retired" from the game he played only part time -- focusing on his law profession -- in 1930 at age 28. That was the same year that Jones won the "Grand Slam," which at the time consisted of the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur. He remains the only player to win all four major championships in the same calendar year.
All told, Jones played in just 31 major championships. He finished among the top 10 of those on 27 occasions, including a remarkable 13 victories.
Here's a breakdown of Jones's major championship wins:
U.S. Open: 1923, 1926, 1929, 1930
British Open: 1926, 1927, 1930
U.S. Amateur: 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930
British Amateur: 1930
In 1933, Jones co-found and helped design Augusta National Golf Club and also co-found the Masters Tournament, contested for the first time in 1934. He came out of retirement only to play in the Masters. Jones was a 12-time Masters participant, but never finished better than a tie for 13th in the tournament's inaugural year.
It's often said that golf is a game for ladies and gentlemen. There may be no better situation that exemplifies that than one involving Jones at the 1925 U.S. Open.
During the first round of that Open at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts, Jones famously called a penalty on himself after his golf club touched grass close to his golf ball, causing it to move slightly. Jones was the only person who could see the infraction. While a USGA official and Jones's playing partner, Walter Hagen, tried to talk Jones out of taking the penalty, he insisted he violated Rule 18 -- moving a ball at rest after address. Instead of a 76, Jones signed for a 77.
Praised for calling the penalty on himself afterward, Jones responded by saying: "You might as well praise me for not robbing banks."
That penalty proved costly. Instead of winning the tournament by one stroke in regulation, Jones found himself in a 36-hole playoff, which he lost to Scottish pro Willie Macfarlane.
Much like it's been well-documented that Jack Nicklaus was the childhood idol of Tiger Woods, Jones filled that role for Nicklaus.
In 1960, a then 20-year-old Nicklaus said, "Jones is the greatest golfer who ever lived and probably ever will live. That's my goal. Bobby Jones. It's the only goal."
After watching Nicklaus win the Masters for the second time in 1965 (the fourth of the Golden Bear's record 18 major championships), Jones said: "Nicklaus played a game with which I am not familiar."
Talk about a compliment.
Jones passed away on December 18, 1971, at the age of 69.
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The 475-yard, par-4 No. 16 at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course is named "Moccasin" -- and it had a nasty bite all weekend, scoring as the hardest hole on the course.
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So when John Senden's second shot Sunday landed short of the green and in the rough, some 22 yards from hole, just getting up and down from that spot would have been a very good feat.
Except Senden went one step further.
That chip-in birdie gave the 42-year-old Australian the outright lead, and with a clutch birdie putt on the following hole, Senden had enough of a cushion to hold off a furious rally by Kevin Na to win the Valspar Championship and snap an eight-year winless drought. The victory also earns Senden an invitation to the Masters.
Certainly the shot of the day.
OK. So it's not as epic as his chip on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach to win the 1982 U.S. Open, or any of the shots he hit to win five Open Championships and two Masters.
But you have to admit once you've seen the video, Tom Watson's shot on the 8th hole during Friday's Toshiba Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club was pretty awesome. Being Ryder Cup captain certainly has its privileges, including showing the kids that you can still play the game.
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Here's the setup. Watson's approach lands within inches of a palm tree. He has no way to make a normal swing, so -- in the words of Maxwell Smart -- he uses the "old backwards, one-handed, no-look swinging wedge off the flagstick trick."
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Unfortunately, you can't see where the ball eventually winds up. But from the reaction of the spectators, it must have been very close. Watson tapped in for a "routine" par. And a pretty good story to tell in the clubhouse, especially after shooting better than his age the next day.
This year's PGA Tour slogan is "these guys are good." Watson is proof that some of these guys have always been great.
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