Golf Digest: 13 Old Guys Who Nearly Won Majors

GOLF DIGEST PUBLISHED A GALLERY of old guys who barely missed glory. With the exception of six-time Open champion Harry Vardon, “13 Graying Golfers Who Nearly Won Majors” features players from the Sam Snead-Ben Hogan era to the present day.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the near misses came at the Masters, the one major played at the same course each year and where experience and wiliness probably count the most. I remember a handful of these, from No. 8 on. In fact, last night I watched a Golf Channel replay of the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. It’s still hard to watch, especially the playoff (but I turned it off before then).

Golf Digest: 13 Old Guys Who Nearly Won Majors 1
Jimmy Demaret and Ben Hogan (USGA Museum)

I’ve written about Ben Hogan at Cherry Hills in 1960 (No. 2 on below list) in my book THE LONGEST SHOT. Thinking he needed a birdie on the 71st hole, Hogan famously spun his little wedge shot into the water that fronted the 17th green. Hall of Fame golf writer Dan Jenkins told me at this year’s U.S. Open that Hogan hit that shot slightly fat. (I doubt that Hogan ever said so or would even admit it.) Jenkins, who was close to Hogan, insisted that’s the way it was. Jenkins was there.

Jenkins cleared up a few other things, too, but I’ll save them for another time.

1. Harry Vardon, age 50, 1920 U.S. Open

Finish: runner-up

Vardon shot 42 on the final nine and missed a playoff with Ted Ray by one stroke.

2. Ben Hogan, age 47, 1960 U.S. Open

Finish: T9

Hogan was tied for the lead with a few holes left, but finished bogey, triple bogey.

3. Jimmy Demaret, age 51, 1962 Masters

Finish: T5

The three-time winner shot 71-70 on the weekend.

4. Sam Snead, age 51, 1963 Masters

Finish: T3

Sam was tied with three holes left.

5. Ben Hogan, age 54, 1967 Masters

Finish: T10

Shot a back-nine 30 on Saturday to get within two of the 54-hole lead.

6. Julius Boros, age 52, 1973 U.S. Open

Finish: T7

Tied for 54-hole lead.

7. Sam Snead, age 62, 1974 PGA Championship

Finish: T3

Three shots in arrears to winner Lee Trevino.

8. Raymond Floyd, age 49, 1992 Masters

Finish: runner-up

Tied for the lead after 62 holes before losing to Fred Couples.

9. Jack Nicklaus, age 58, 1998 Masters

Finish: T6

Jack closed with a 68 and was within two of the lead at one point on Sunday.

10. Greg Norman, age 53, 2008 British Open

Finish: T3

Took a two-shot lead into final round.

11. Kenny Perry, age 49, 2009 Masters

Finish: runner-up

Bogeyed the last two holes and lost in a playoff to Angel Cabrera.

12. Tom Watson, age 59, 2009 British Open

Finish: runner-up

You probably remember this painful one.

13. Miguel Angel Jimenez, age 50, 2014 Masters

Finish: 4th

Fired 66-72 on the weekend.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.