Height: 5 ft 5 ½ in
Born: February 27, 1902
Died: May 13, 1999
Birthplace: Harrison, New York
Turned Pro: 1920
Gene Sarazen began his golfing career as a caddie at the age of ten. The caddie taught himself to play the game using an interlocking grip and began to show the skills that would make him on of the greatest players in golf history.
Sarazen’s impact on the game is still evident today. He invented the sand wedge and perfected the modern technique of an “explosion” shot where the club doesn’t actually come into contact with the ball.
Every April, at the year’s first Major, competitors cross the “Sarazen Bridge” on Augusta National’s 15th hole. The bridge commemorates “the shot heard round the world”. Playing in the 1935 Masters, and trailing by three shots, Sarazan holed out his second shot on the par 5 15th hole for a double eagle. He went on to capture the Masters title the next day in a playoff.
In all, Sarazen won 39 PGA Tour titles. More impressively, he won 7 Major championships – the Masters, two U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships and one Open Championship. Sarazen is one of only five players (Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods) to win all four Majors.
Sarazen continued to play in the Masters and Open Championships (where former Champions continued to receive automatic invitations) late into his career. He finished 10th at the Masters as a 48-year old in 1950. In 1963, he made the cut at Augusta as a 61-year old. Incredibly, Sarazen recorded a hole-in-one at the 1973 Open Championship as a 71-year old.
When Sarazen finally retired as a competitive golfer, he stayed connected to the game. He was a commentator on the popular Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf television show.