Doug Sanders passes away at the age of 86
April 12, 2020
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- April 12, 2020
- Doug Sanders had 20 career wins on the PGA TOUR along with 20 runner-up finishes. (PGA TOUR Archive)
Doug Sanders, a 20-time PGA TOUR winner perhaps known best for being a stylish and flamboyant dresser earning him the nickname, “the Peacock of the Fairways,” died today, April 12, in Houston, from natural causes at age 86.
In addition to his 20 PGA TOUR titles, Sanders will be remembered for all his close calls — 20 runner-up finishes, including four second-place performances at major championships — the 1959 PGA Championship, the 1961 U.S. Open, and the 1966 and 1970 Open Championships. In total, he had 13 top-10 finishes in major championships without recording a victory.
At the 1970 Open Championship, Sanders spent the fourth round holding off Jack Nicklaus for the lead. He reached the final green, where he needed only to make a 30-inch putt to win. But he missed it, one of the most famous short misses in golf history. Sanders played well in the 18-hole playoff the following day, but Nicklaus made a putt on the final hole to beat him.Doug Sanders (middle-left) with George W. Bush (left), George H. W. Bush (middle-right) and Deane Beman. (PGA TOUR Archive)
“I feel very sick about the British Open,” Sanders told the Sporting News after the loss to Nicklaus. “Not so much for myself, but for my wife and my son. I’ll tell you something, I never got so many letters and wires than after the British Open. They came from people who said they felt so bad to see me miss winning. Many of them weren’t even signed, just ending with ‘A fan.’”
Born July 24, 1933 in Cedartown, Georgia, Sanders was a self-taught golfer with a short, flat swing who played collegiately at the University of Florida. In 1956, Sanders won the Canadian Open as an amateur—the first amateur ever to pull off that feat. He turned pro soon after that victory and joined the TOUR for the 1957 season. His best year came in 1961, when he won five times. He had three-win seasons in 1962 and 1966. His final win came at the 1972 Kemper Open. Sanders was also a member of the 1967 U.S. Ryder Cup team captained by Ben Hogan.
Named by Esquire as one of America’s “Ten Best Dressed Jocks” in 1973, Sanders was a self-proclaimed “clothes horse” who owned as many as 359 pairs of golf and dress shoes, many custom-dyed to match his vast rainbow of a wardrobe. He also opened a chain of Doug Sanders Dry Cleaning Centers throughout the United States in the 1960s.Doug Sanders was well known for his colorful outfits on the course. (PGA TOUR Archive)
“The two most frequent questions on tour were, ‘What did Arnold Palmer shoot?’ and ‘What’s Doug Sanders wearing?’” he told Golf Digest in 2007.
A member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a “Gator Great.”
After turning 50, he was active on PGA TOUR Champions, playing in 218 events and winning the 1983 World Seniors Invitational in Charlotte, N.C. From 1983 to 1994, he also was the host of PGA TOUR Champions’ Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic.Doug Sanders (left) with Dean Beman (middle-left), Lee Trevino (middle-right) and George H. W. Bush (right). (PGA TOUR Archive)