Ten most memorable moments in Nissan Open's 75-year history
March 31, 2004
LOS ANGELES -- In its previous 74 years, the Nissan Open has seen its share of memorable moments. When the 75th anniversary event is played at Riviera Country Club on Feb. 19-25, 2001, another chapter will be added to the lore of the PGA TOUR's oldest civic-sponsored event. A panel of experts has selected the top-10 most memorable moments in the Nissan Open. They are as follows:
BEN HOGAN'S REMARKABLE RUN - Ben Hogan started his remarkable run at Riviera history in 1947 with a course record score of 280. In 1948, he shattered the record again with a 9-under-par 275, then later that year, won the U.S. Open at Riviera with a score of 276. There was no doubt about it. Riviera was truly Hogan's Alley.
SAM SNEAD'S PLAYOFF VICTORY OVER HOGAN - Sam Snead birdied the final three holes to force a playoff with Ben Hogan in 1950, but because of heavy rain, the playoff was held a week later, after the players returned from the Crosby at Pebble Beach. Snead won the playoff by four strokes, but in reality, the real loser was diminutive Jerry Barber, who saw his 10-stroke lead in the third round erased by rain when play was stopped and scores reverted to the second round.
HISTORICAL FIRSTS IN RADIO, TV - In 1929, the Los Angeles Open made history by becoming the first golf tournament ever to be broadcast on radio. In 1953, it became the first golf tournament to be locally televised. In 1966, it was the first golf tournament to be televised nationally.
FIRST WOMAN TO PLAY IN MEN'S PRO TOURNAMENT -The legendary Babe Didrickson Zaharias became the first woman ever to play in a professional men's golf tournament in the 1938 Los Angeles Open. She shot rounds of 84 and 81 and failed to make the cut at Griffith Park. That was also the year Jimmy Thompson won the tournament using a second-hand putter he had purchased for $1 in a Pasadena pro shop three weeks earlier.
BIGGEST UPSET - In 1941, Johnny Bulla pulled one of golf's greatest upsets. Bulla, a young drugstore employee from Chicago, used Walgreens bargain-counter golf balls to defeat a field that included Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson at Riviera.
PGA OF AMERICA'S BAN DEFIED - In 1952, the Los Angeles Open defied the PGA of America's ban on black players by having former heavyweight champion Joe Louis in the tournament.
NELSON BREAKS THROUGH - The great Byron Nelson, coming off a year in which he won 19 tournaments, finally won an L.A. Open on his 12th attempt in 1946.
NICKLAUS' FIRST PAYCHECK - Jack Nicklaus earned his first check as a pro at Rancho Park in 1962. He made the cut, but finished last and took home $33.33.
PALMER'S 12 - Arnold Palmer's obsession with trying to reach Rancho Park's par-five ninth hole in two turned into a disaster when he hit four balls out of bound, two into the driving range and two into the street. Palmer wound up with a 12 on the hole.
WOODS MAKES HIS Nissan Open DEBUT - Sixteen-year-old amateur Eldrick "Tiger" Woods was given a sponsor's exemption to play in the Nissan Open. The youngest player ever to compete in the event, Woods shot rounds of 72 and 75 and missed the cut, but promised he would be back..
The Nissan Open is the oldest civic-sponsored event on the PGA TOUR. The Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce (LAJCC) has organized it since 1926.
The 2001 tournament marks the 39th time the event has been held at Riviera Country Club, which will celebrate its 75th year as a golf club. It was first held at Riviera in 1929.
Since its first involvement with professional golf, Nissan has expanded its sports marketing role with other programs, which have included sponsorship of the 1996 Olympic Games, the PGA Championship, the Tradition (SENIOR PGA TOUR), the Presidents Cup and the Diners Club Matches, as well as Warren Miller's ski films.
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found on the Internet at www.nissandriven.com or contact the corporate media line at 310-771-5631.
The Nissan Open benefits a variety of local organizations and helps enrich the quality of life for many individuals. Proceeds benefit the LAJCC's community service projects throughout Los Angeles County.