Height: 6 ft 1 in
Born: July 24, 1933
College: University of Florida
Turned Pro: 1956
Before Bubba Watson, there was George Douglas Sanders. Born into poverty in Cedartown, Georgia, Sanders worked as a cotton picker and taught himself the game of golf. Perhaps best known for his nickname, “the Peacock of the Fairways”, Sanders had a very successful professional golf career with 20 career wins on the PGA Tour.
Sanders was able to earn a go scholarship at the University of Florida where he led the Gators to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship. After his freshman year at Gainvesville, Sanders played as an amateur and won the Canadian Open in a playoff over Dow Finsterwald. Sanders is the only amateur to win in the history of the event. The win convinced Sanders he could make a living as a touring pro, so he quit school and turned professional in 1956.
He won the Western Open in 1958 and the Coral Gables Invitation in 1959. The 1960’s witnessed a string of consistent play for Sanders, including 5 wins in 1961 and multiple win seasons in 1962, 1965 and 1966.
Sanders came close to winning several Major championships. He finished his career with four runner up finishes and 13 top ten performances in the Major championships. Sanders loss in the 1970 British Open at St. Andrews was heartbreaking. Sanders hit a big drive but needed four shots to get in the hole from less than a hundred yards. He missed a three-foot putt for the win. The next day, he lost by a single shot in an eighteen hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus.
Sanders’ sartorial splendor was legendary. Sanders was the inspiration for sportswriter Dan Jenkin’s golf novel, “Dead Solid Perfect” – which was later made into a motion picture.
Sanders lives in Houston.