A look back at golf legend Sam Snead’s grand final years

Written by By Staff Writer

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Sam Snead’s last PGA Tour victory.

The first was in 1969. The second one came in 1974.

Both wins were at the famed TPC Four Seasons in Las Vegas, having missed the cut at the U.S. Open and Open Championship, respectively.

Not a lot of players are blessed with the mentality that both PGA Tour victories took.

In Snead’s case, he thrived after each that — feeling confident he could still win and more devoted to chipping the ball to the hole than worrying about the pin positions.

Snead told CNN’s Ben Grossman that being in a great “normal” marriage was one of the keys to his longevity.

“If I was away from my wife, she would think of the problems that I would go through. She would think of all the things that I did that were tough and that she could help me do and what I could do to please her so we could do things together,” he said.

1 / 8 – Ernie Els, one of four women in the PGA Championship field, at golf.com Ernie Els is the only major winner in this year’s field. Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP

Miss my deadlines

Snead’s wife, Joetta, was tough on him too. She was known for not giving up on the golf pro, although she has admitted she was a tough taskmaster.

“I never believed she wanted me to fail or anything like that because I was never one that would fail in life.

“One of the hardest things in my life was missing my deadlines as a kid,” he said.

Snead, 79, lives in Las Vegas now but during the 1970s also worked at the PGA Tour headquarters in nearby Orlando. He stopped competing full-time in 1982 but continued as a club professional in his native Ohio.

At his peak, Snead won four majors, played in 50 PGA Tour events in the U.S. and was runner-up in five other majors.

Part of his knack for coming back from difficulties began, according to Snead, at the age of 18 when he lost half his vision in both eyes from an allergic reaction to a scabby tongue.

“I was so determined I didn’t quit even though I was basically blind in both eyes. I just didn’t think about that.

“And then, in college, I almost quit, too. My dad offered me a transfer to a technical college in Indianapolis. But I just didn’t quit that easily. I wanted to play at Indiana. So I fought my father and they allowed me to go there.”

That test helped him get back on track and he said that was the turning point.

“I remember one of the golf professionals actually looked out the window one day and asked me if I was going to stop or not. He didn’t mean anything by it and he should have, but I said ‘No, I’m still going to play golf, so whatever happens, it’s OK.”

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