Great Greensboro moments
Here are 74 things (and one to go) you should know about the Wyndham Championship, one of the TOUR's oldest tournaments
August 08, 2014
The Wyndham Championship is one of the oldest events on the PGA TOUR, having first been held in 1938. Hometown hero Sam Snead won that year -- and would go on to win in Greensboro seven more times.
This week's event marks the 75th time the Wyndham Championship has been held (the tournament was not held in 1943 or 1944). In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the tournament has put together its list of the 75 most interesting tidbits and it has been kind enough to share them with PGATOUR.COM.
Here's a look at the moments, counting backwards:
75. In 1937 an idea was born in the minds of the year-old Greensboro Jaycees. Why not a golf tournament? As one of them recalled years later, "We were looking for programs that would help the city ... put Greensboro on the map." Before the year was out, a group of business and civic leaders, including the late Joseph Bryan, met in the old O. Henry Hotel downtown and pledged the $5,000 needed to acquire a date on the fledgling PGA TOUR. The Greater Greensboro Open was a go for the spring of 1938.
74. Art Doering, a relative unknown Virginian looking for a club job, scored a five-shot victory in 1951. But many remember more the horrendous 14 Dr. Cary Middlecoff made on the par-4 12th hole at Starmount. He drove into the mud bank just over the creek, finally got on the green seven whacks and three penalty shots later -- and then three-putted.
73. In 1987 Scott Simpson, who would win the U.S. Open two months later, birdied two of the last three holes for the victory, but the weather was the big news. There was a rain/lightning delay and suspension on Friday, a high of 44 and light snow delayed the start 30 minutes on Saturday, and Sunday's final round saw a high of 47 with snow flurries in the morning.
72. During the first round of the 2011 Wyndham Championship, Argentinian pro Fabian Gomez made one of the great shots in tournament history, scoring a double eagle on Sedgefield's par-5 15th hole. He did it with a 247-yard 5-wood, giving him only the tournament's fifth double eagle since the PGA TOUR began recording such accomplishments in 1970.
71. The Chrysler Corporation took over as the title sponsor and remained so through the 2006 tournament. Chrysler also was one of the prime movers in switching the tournament from spring to fall dates beginning in 2003. It requested the change so it could showcase its cars for the upcoming model year.
70. The Wyndham's heritage is solidly tied to the World Golf Hall of Fame. No less than 17 of its winners are now members: Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Bob Charles, Raymond Floyd, Doug Ford, Ralph Guldahl, Gene Littler, Lloyd Mangrum, Sandy Lyle,Larry Nelson, Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Lanny Wadkins.
69: The tournament has nine multiple winners: Sam Snead (1938, 1965 and six in between), Byron Nelson (1941, '45), George Archer (1967, '72), Billy Casper (1962, '68), Danny Edwards (1977, '82), Davis Love III (1992, 2006), Sandy Lyle (1986, '88), Rocco Mediate (1993, 2002), and Doug Sanders (1963,'66).
68. When the Greensboro Jaycees were the primary sponsors of the tournament, it proved good training grounds for Greensboro leaders. In one 16-year stretch, the city's mayor was a former General Chairman of the golf tournament every year (Jim Melvin 10 years, John Forbis six).
67. T.C. Chen of Taiwan shot a 68 to tie for the first-round lead in 1987, but that was just part of the excitement for him. He had never seen snow before and the white stuff was falling steadily as he went to the practice tee. They also had early-morning flurries the final day, reminiscent of 47 years earlier when play was postponed three days because of snow.
66. Justin Thomas, a high school sophomore who had qualified for the tournament by winning the FJ Invitational, an American Junior Golf Association event here the previous June, shot a 65 in the opening round and followed with a 72, becoming the third-youngest player in PGA TOUR history to make the cut in 2009. He posted 71 in the third round but did not qualify for the final 18, finishing tied for 78th.
65. It took a record 91 holes to settle the 1953 championship. There was a four-way tie at the end of 72 between Sam Snead, Art Wall, Doug Ford and Earl Stewart. It called for an 18-hole playoff Monday, and even that did not produce a winner. Snead and Stewart were tied at 68, Wall and Ford eliminated. In sudden death from there, an improbable Stewart won with par on the first hole.
64. It was a stroll up the 18th hole for winner Craig Stadler on an unseasonably warm (68) Easter Sunday at Forest Oaks. He had a six-stroke lead as he played his way in ... never dreaming, of course, that 29 years later his son, Kevin, would not be so fortunate. Kevin reached a playoff in 2009 but lost to Ryan Moore.
63. Reigning PGA champion Dow Finsterwald, after a 54-hole record (66-67-65) start, won with an improbable closing 77, highest winning score in history. After two earlier days in the 80s, a cold front came through with a vengeance. Sunday came cold, hard rain, wind, high of 53, low 40s when they finally finished.
62. Derek Lamely did not win the Wyndham in 2011, but he got something close with one of the tournament's rarities -- a hole-in-one. With his ace on the 16th hole at Sedgefield, he won "Vacations for Life" from tournament title sponsor Wyndham Worldwide.
61. Ryan Moore, one of the most celebrated amateurs in recent history, authenticated his promise by winning his first PGA TOUR event, beating Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler in a playoff (birdie on third extra hole). The three had tied at 16-under-par 264 after 72 holes, a shot in front of Sergio Garcia who nearly holed out from the greenside bunker on the 72nd hole to join the playoff.
60. For the first time ever, a tournament official had his 15 minutes of fame in the competition itself. Willard Gourley, Sedgefield's club champion, shot 69 in the opening round in 1957 to trail leader Doug Ford by a single shot (he finished tied for 45th). Two years later he was General Chairman of the tournament.
59. Davis Love III, who had won the 1992 tournament with a spectacular closing round score of 62, captured what was to be the final Chrysler Classic of Greensboro in 2006. This time it was with a final 66 on a cloudy, chilly Sunday. It was also to be the final tournament played in October before moving to its present August dates.
58. The Greensboro Jaycees, with 347 members and Jim Melvin as president, were named the No. 1 chapter in the world in 1964-65. Later the chapter would grow to slightly more than 1,000 members at its peak.
57. Can you hear me now? In 2010 the Wyndham Championship became the first PGA TOUR event to allow fans to use mobile devices on the course during tournament play. The PGA TOUR adopted the policies largely created by the Wyndham Championship staff TOUR wide the following year.
56. By the mid-1960s, the GGO was expanding its exposure dramatically. In 1964 General Chairman Bradley Faircloth signed a contract with regional television producer C.D. Chesley to televise the tournament live throughout the region for the first time. This led to a long-term association with Chesley, who also produced ACC basketball, and eventually led to national TV exposure.
55. By the early 1960s, travel by automobile by the players was becoming harder and harder with the expanding PGA TOUR schedule. Responding to the need, the tournament chartered a Southern Airways plane to fly the players from Augusta to Greensboro, ensuring a better field.
54. In the 1960s, in appreciation for his loyalty to the GGO, the tournament became a regular contributor to Arnold Palmer's scholarship endowments at Wake Forest, one of them named for his late room mate Bud Worsham. Fittingly, 2011 Wyndham winner Webb Simpson attended Wake Forest on one of these scholarships, as did 1983 winner Lanny Wadkins.
53. During its peak years at Forest Oaks, in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, the GGO became known across the PGA TOUR for its raucous 17th hole, a favorite par 3 for the huge galleries of the day. Ultimately, local officials were asked to tune it down a bit, and they did.
52. A young Vanderbilt graduate named Brandt Snedeker came out of the ranks with a long birdie putt on the 17th hole of the final round to win the 2007 Wyndham, the first with title sponsor Wyndham Worldwide. It was the first played on the new August dates, which turned out to be scorchers, all in the high 90s. Snedeker went on to be named PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year.
51. GGO emerges. In 1945, Greensboro News & Record sports editor Smith Barrier, later to become tournament historian and its 1969 Honorary Chairman, shortened the Greater Greensboro Open to "GGO" in his newspaper column, and the abbreviated name became a keeper here and across the PGA TOUR.
50. Frank Nobilo, better known as a Golf Channel commentator these days, won the 1997 tournament by beating Brad Faxon with a par on the first extra hole of a playoff. They had tied after 72 holes with 14-under-par scores of 274 at Forest Oaks. Sunday's cold, rainy conditions were among the worst in tournament history.
49. Gone fishing! Early in the 1970s, at the suggestion of News & Record outdoors editor Bodie McDowell, the GGO became the only PGA TOUR event with its very own fishing tournament, and it lasted for 20 years or more. The late Carson Bain and Dave Goforth helped stage it, and Sam Snead was among its regulars for a relaxing day on city lakes.
48. In 1973 at Sedgefield, Chi Chi Rodriguez won the golf tournament and the hearts of the fans alike with his often zany antics, He never led the tournament until the last day, firing a closing 66 despite a bogey at the 72nd hole that still left him a shot ahead of Lou Graham. Springtime rainy weather was the big story again, washing out the Saturday round completely.
47. Steve Elkington was seemingly going nowhere in 1990 as the field chased the then Kmart GGO's record purse of $1.25 million. He was just even par at 54 holes, seven strokes behind. But he produced one of the finest finishing rounds in tournament history, a 6-under-par 66 that made him a winner by two over Mike Reid.
46. Hollywood could not have scripted the Wyndham's 2008 return to Sedgefield any better. The winner with record-breaking scores was Carl Pettersson, Greensboro Grimsley High School and N.C. State University alumnus, with record-breaking scores for first round (62), second round (61), 36 holes (125), 54 holes (191) and 72 holes (259). A native of Sweden, he was, and still is, the player representative on the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation Board, the body that oversees tournament operations.
45. Steve Elkington almost made it two wins in four years in 1993, playing Rocco Mediate to a dead heat at 72 holes, both at 7 under par. But Mediate birdied the fourth extra hole for the playoff victory. Mediate was unable to defend in 1994 because of a bad back but asked the Greensboro News & Record to print a letter of regret to his legions of fans in the Piedmont Triad.
44. The 2005 tournament turned out to be a battle royal. K. J. Choi was the ultimate victor over Shigeki Maruyama in a major shootout. Choi closed with a 66 to finish 22 under par, edging Maruyama, who fired 67, by two shots. But the best story was Choi giving $95,000 (one-tenth of his earnings) to the Korean church he had attended while in Greensboro.
43. The tournament's most popular player of the 1960s, save for the aging Sam Snead himself, was Mike Souchak, who was a household word in North Carolina before anybody knew he could play golf. He had been a football star at Duke and had made Durham his home, so when he cruised through to a seven-shot victory in 1961, it was truly a happy hour. It was one of Souchak's 16 PGA TOUR victories.
42. In 2010 the tournament received a significant economic boost when McConnell Golf, which already owned the city's Cardinal Country Club, purchased Sedgefield and began to make major improvements to the golf course, the clubhouse and its adjacent buildings -- most noticeably, the old pool house was demolished and a new one constructed from a design similar to the tudor-style main clubhouse. McConnell Golf’s most recent improvement was made when the bent grass greens were replaced with heat-tolerant champion Bermuda grass in 2012.
41. In the most significant change in tournament history to that point, the giant Kmart corporation signed on as the tournament's first full title sponsor, immediately enabling the GGO to offer a $1 million purse. It was an increase of $400,000 over the 1987 prize money and returned the GGO to elite status among regular PGA TOUR events. As a result of its golf connection, Kmart later built a major distribution center in Greensboro.
40. Goodbye Sedgefield, hello Forest Oaks. That was the cry in 1977 shortly after local amateur and businessman John Hughes Jr. purchased Forest Oaks Country Club and pledged support that enabled the GGO to accommodate more spectators. It was at a time when space was limited at Sedgefield and some of its members had grown weary of giving up their golf course for such the prolonged period the tournament required.
39. Monday qualifiers for PGA TOUR competition are seldom heard from after play begins in the main event. Not so in the 2010 Wyndham Championship. Arjun Atwal blistered Sedgefield with an opening-round 61 and never looked back, winning with a 20-under-par final total. He became the first India-born player to win on the PGA TOUR and the first Monday qualifier to win the Wyndham.
38. A father-son breakthrough was the back story from the 2002 tournament. PGA TOUR regular Jay Haas was joined in the field by his son Bill, who, like his dad, was a Wake Forest product. The Haas duo joins the Geibergers (Al and son Brent) and the Stadlers (Craig and son Kevin) as the tournament’s only two-generation participants.
37. Sam Snead and Byron Nelson back after half a century. That was one of the most remarkable sidelights from the 50th anniversary of the GGO in 1988. Both returned for the big celebrations. Snead, who played in and won the first one in 1938, participated in a nine-hole pro-am for the old timers but Nelson, who first placed here in 1939, regretfully had to just watch because of an injured hand.
36. GGO Sunday in 1979 was a warm and fuzzy day for the home folks. With the sun shining and temperature at 77, Fayetteville native Raymond Floyd shot a closing 67 at Forest Oaks to overcome a six-stroke deficit and become the first North Carolinian to win the tournament. Floyd, who edged out Gary Player by one stroke, cut his competitive teeth in the old Carolinas Junior Championship at Greensboro Country Club.
35. Lee Trevino had a major disappointment when he came up one stroke short in his duel with winner Bob Charles in the 1974 GGO, but he found redemption and then some on his return to North Carolina a few months later. Back in the Piedmont Triad for the '74 PGA Championship, he beat Jack Nicklaus in a stirring finish at Tanglewood Park, in suburban Winston-Salem. It was also the last time players used local caddies for the PGA.
34. The GOLD sponsor package was born out of necessity in 1969 when Allied Chemical withdrew as the presenting sponsor. They sold 11 of them the first year to make up for the $10,000 lost toward the $160,000 total purse and rewarded the new sponsors with front-and-center recognition at the Champions Banquet.
33. With 18 holes to play in the 1964 GGO, Jack Nicklaus appeared on his way to victory in one of his rare appearances here. Nicklaus led by three shots at 54 holes, but a double bogey on the third hole Sunday opened the door, and Julius Boros waltzed through. Boros shot a final 66 that tied him with Doug Sanders at 72 holes, while Nicklaus struggled for a 73. Boros won it all with a par on the first playoff hole.
32. Vietnam veteran Larry Nelson holed out from a bunker on the 72nd hole to reach a playoff with Mark Hayes in 1981 then birdied the second extra hole for the victory. CBS Sports television analyst and World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Faldo shot a final-round 69 and missed the playoff with Nelson and Hayes by a single shot. Nelson later won the PGA championship and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
31. Byron Nelson's spectacular six-iron shot to the 11th hole at Sedgefield set up an eagle three and was the pivotal shot en route to a second round 64 in 1941, but it was his birdie-birdie-birdie finish at Starmount Forest Country Club (in its early days, the tournament was contested on two courses with two rounds each at Starmount Forest and Sedgefield Country Clubs) two rounds later that sealed the first of his two GGO victories. Ben Hogan had led after the first two rounds at Sedgefield and appeared headed for a second straight GGO championship, but “Lord Byron” as he was often called, had other ideas.
30. When Webb Simpson made the 2011 Wyndham Championship his first win on the PGA TOUR (the U.S. Open would come a short time later), he also became just the third North Carolinian to win here (Raymond Floyd and Davis Love III are the other two). He also was the second winner here who attended Wake Forest University on an Arnold Palmer-funded scholarship (Lanny Wadkins is the other).
29. When Bob Charles beat Raymond Floyd and Lee Trevino by a shot to win the 1974 GGO, he became the first left-hander to ever to win a PGA TOUR event. Fittingly, when Charles first came to the United States from his native New Zealand, it was with substantial help from the National Left-Handed Golf Association, headquartered in Greensboro and headed by Sedgefield member Bill Sharpe.
28. Davis Love III produced a finish for the ages to win the 1992 GGO at Forest Oaks. He started the final round three shots behind, yet won the tournament by a whopping six strokes, posting a course-record 31-31--62 that included two eagles on holes on which he holed out from greenside bunkers. Love, one of only three North Carolinians to win the tournament (Raymond Floyd and Webb Simpson are the others), almost holed out for a third eagle, hitting a wedge to the 16th that stopped barely two inches from the cup.
27. Patrick Reed and 2013 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Jordan Speith, two of the TOUR's authentic Young Lions, waged a battle to the finish in 2013, from opening-round 65s to the finish line where they stood dead even at 14 under par. On the second playoff hole at Sedgefield’s par-4 10th, Reed's tee shot almost went out of bounds, but he hit an improbable second shot from the trees onto the green and made a seven-foot birdie putt for his first PGA TOUR victory with his wife, Justine, serving as his caddie.
26. When Brent Geiberger won at Forest Oaks in 2004, it completed the tournament's only father/son champion pair. His father, Al, won at Sedgefield in 1976. But there was quite a difference in their earnings. Al Geiberger took home $46,000 for his triumph. Nearly 30 years later, when son Brent was the victor, the winner's purse had mushroomed to a whopping $828,000.
25. The GGO of 1969 produced the tournament's second four-way tie at the end of 72 holes. Gene Littler, Julius Boros, Tom Weiskopf and Orville Moody all finished at 10-under-par and then headed out to settle things on what turned out to be the longest sudden-death playoff in GGO history. Little finally won it all with a 12-foot birdie putt on Sedgefield's 15th hole – the sixth extra hole.
24. The 2012 Wyndham turned into a dream victory for Spain's Sergio Garcia, whose late countryman Seve Ballesteros, his idol, also won here in 1978. Garcia surged from back in the pack with a second-round 63 at Sedgefield, then finished off the victory with 66s the final two rounds. He was one of 38 players who had to complete the tournament Monday due to heavy rain on Sunday.
23. Perhaps the most improbable GGO winner ever was one Sam Byrd, who played backup for Babe Ruth with the New York Yankees and is the only former Major League Baseball player to win a PGA TOUR event. His big break came when leader Byron Nelson triple bogeyed the par-3 17th at Starmount. Byrd's birdie at the 18th made him a two-shot winner over Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum.
22. Home cooking. Sedgefield's own resident pro, Tony Manero, finished tied for 13th in the inaugural GGO in 1938, still basking in the glory of having won the U. S. Open two years earlier in a monumental surprise. Manero had come home to an authentic hero's welcome after firing a closing 67 to win the Open with a 72-hole record, and it helped stir the interest needed to launch the GGO.
21. The Champions Banquet was launched circa 1962 with Arnold Palmer the featured speaker, and the old Plantation Club was packed and rocking. But Palmer was circling Greensboro in his plane, unable to land because of bad weather. He had to divert to Charlotte, whereupon Jim Melvin coaxed his friends in the Highway Patrol to pick up Palmer there and speed him to Greensboro. They did, in 45 minutes flat, and when they entered the club about 9:30 p.m., the patrolman got a bigger ovation than Palmer.
20. In 2007 the Wyndham Championship got a good break in the scheduling. When the FedExCup season-ending Playoffs were established, with a record $10 million going to the winner, the Wyndham got the final spot on the Regular-Season schedule. This helped it fatten its field with key players on the bubble who needed to play their way into the FedExCup showdown.
19. Scotsman Sandy Lyle carved out a piece of history when he won the 50th anniversary GGO in 1988, banking $180,000 from the tournament's first $1 million purse. Lyle, who vaulted into contention with a second-round 63 at Forest Oaks, won the Masters the following week, becoming the first man to pull off that two-week double since Sam Snead did it in 1949.
18. An obscure young man from Spain named Seve Ballesteros was the last man to make the cut in 1978. But when the smoke cleared on an 84-degree Sunday at Forest Oaks, Ballesteros was the winner. A week before his 21st birthday, the future World Golf Hall of Famer had captured his first PGA TOUR tournament with a closing 66, beating local favorite Fuzzy Zoeller and Jack Renner by stroke.
17. In 2001 the Jaycees, convinced of the need for a full-time tournament director, hired Mark Brazil away from the American Junior Golf Association, where he had already made a name for himself as a golf administrator with a bright future. He is now one of the PGA TOUR's most respected tournament executives, and it was under his leadership that the tournament rescued itself from near extinction in the mid-2000s.
16. One of the GGO's most spectacular finishes got South African Gary Player home the winner in 1970, just when it looked as if Arnold Palmer would win for the legions of fellow Wake Forest alums at his heels. Palmer opened with a 64 for the lead, still was tied at the top at 54 holes despite a 74. But here came Player, blistering Sedgefield with a final 65 thanks to a six-hole stretch he played in 5 under par.
15. Billy Casper surprised even himself by winning his second GGO in 1968. He was already rusty from a recent six-week overseas tour for the U.S. Armed Forces, and an early round was rained out. Then Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and Sunday was declared a National day of mourning. It meant a 36-hole finish on Monday, but Casper, tied with Don January after the morning round, put together a string of four birdies in five holes on the back side for a 66 at Sedgefield and won by four.
14. In 2007 Wyndham Worldwide became the tournament's title sponsor, a position absolutely critical to the success of a PGA TOUR event. In Wyndham the tournament found a true partner in seeking improvement each year. Wyndham has taken ownership of the Piedmont Triad's PGA TOUR event in a very positive way, enabling tournament personnel to lean on them for the entire look and feel as it is presented on the grounds at Sedgefield, in the wider marketplace and through domestic and international television. TOUR events such as the Wyndham are seen in 945 million homes in 225 countries and in 32 languages.
13. After winning the GGO for the seventh time in 1960, Sam Snead good-naturedly suggested that Starmount owner Edward Benjamin spend some of his money fixing up the golf course. Benjamin was not amused and banned Snead from the golf course for life, forcing the tournament to move to Sedgefield permanently. Ironically, 28 years later during the GGO's 50th anniversary celebration, and after Benjamin had sold the course to the membership, they renamed the road leading to the clubhouse Sam Snead Drive.
12. Arnold Palmer's faithful followers, still smarting from his near-miss two years earlier, were poised for a celebration befitting The King as they neared the finish line in 1972. He was 3 under par and leading by two shots as he stood on the 16th tee (Now seventh tee) of the final round. But wait. Splash! Palmer's tee shot to the par 3 was in the branch, he tried to play it out of the water and made triple-bogey 6. He limped home a shot behind George Archer and Tommy Aaron, and Archer won his second GGO in a playoff.
11. With the changing of the tournament's name to "Wyndham Championship" in 2007, following a custom common across the breadth of the PGA TOUR and sports events in general, Greensboro was out of the name for the first time since its inception, but there was more to it than just a name change. Now the tournament was (and is) being marketed throughout the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, and time has proven it a sound strategy.
10. The GGO's 50th birthday in 1988 included a major rally by Greensboro's business and civic leadership that rescued the tournament from falling further behind the PGA TOUR's elite. They guaranteed $1 million toward TV sponsorship to return the event to national TV (CBS Sports) and helped it land Kmart as its first full title sponsor, enabling it to offer a $1 million purse. The combined effort also persuaded the PGA TOUR to give Greensboro new dates two weeks following the Masters, guaranteeing better weather and a stronger field.
9. Noted golf course architect Kris Spence, known especially for his work in restoring Donald Ross-designed golf courses, led a major restoration in 2007 that returned the Sedgefield course to its original Ross specifications. It also modernized the course for today's competitors and played an important role in paving the way for the Wyndham Championship's return to Sedgefield the following year.
8. The 1945 GGO became a part of PGA TOUR lore, probably for all time, thanks to Byron Nelson's heroics. He came to town with two straight victories behind him and after a second-round 67 at Starmount, he fairly cruised home to win the GGO for the second time. More importantly, the win was the third of 11 consecutive victories for Nelson that season, a record that is not likely to ever be matched or broken.
7. The 1940 GGO became famous for two things -- it was just the second victory of Ben Hogan's storied career, and the tournament was postponed for three days because of snow. Play started on Saturday at Starmount, but Sunday dawn brought three inches of snow and play would not resume until Wednesday. Hogan led all four rounds, finishing 66-67 at Sedgefield on Thursday for a nine-shot win over Craig Wood. The 1940 win was also the second in Hogan’s stretch of three straight; he took top honors at Pinehurst before the GGO and in Asheville after.
6. In 1961 tournament officials, urged on by many of their elders, reached across golf's racial divide and issued a personal invitation to Charlie Sifford, a Charlotte native and leading African American golfer of his day, to participate in the GGO. He did, led the tournament after a first-round 68 and wound up tied for fourth behind winner Mike Souchak. Sifford became the first African American to play in a PGA TOUR event in the south, and six months later the TOUR removed the Caucasians-only clause from its by-laws.
5. The 1950 GGO, with Sam Snead en route to a 10-shot victory (his fourth) and Sedgefield bathed in unseasonably warm and clear weather, drew what the PGA TOUR called the largest crowd in the history of the winter tour. They actually ran out of tickets on Sunday and had to borrow IBM punch cards from Cone Mills to use in their place. What transpired that week elevated the GGO significantly in the golf world.
4. The day before the 2005 tournament began, word was received that the last Regular-Season date was available on the new PGA TOUR schedule, but that a $25 million letter of credit was needed to secure it. Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation Board chairman Bobby Long quickly contacted Triad leaders who could help, lawyers drew up an agreement and it was done. Triad individuals and corporations alike stepped up and pledged the $25 million required, and on Monday after the tournament, just five days after receiving notification of the available date, a letter was sent to PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem saying the letter of credit was secure, and the tournament received the coveted date within the FedExCup Regular Season.
3. In 2005 a major changing of the guard at the top occurred that for all practical purposes saved the tournament from losing its place on the regular PGA TOUR. Because the tournament no longer could survive with a volunteer organization and a different tournament director each year, the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation assumed control of the tournament from the Greensboro Jaycees. The business model was adjusted to replace volunteer control and put tournament management in the hands of a professional staff current in modern event practices.
2. Sam Snead in 1938, Ben Hogan in 1940, Byron Nelson in 1941. No other tournament in PGA TOUR history can surpass such royalty for its beginnings, and that more than anything else firmly and quickly established the Greater Greensboro Open as a place of consequence in the world of major league tournament golf. Add Ralph Guldahl (1939) and it gives the GGO World Golf Hall of Fame winners its first four years on the TOUR.
1. Greensboro honored Sam Snead in 1965 on the occasion of his 25th appearance in the GGO, and at the banquet celebration, famed TV host Ed Sullivan allowed as how it would really be nice if "old Sam would go out there and win again." Few thought it possible, for Sam was nearing his 53rd birthday. But in his response, Snead squinted into the bright lights and said, "Them young fellers better watch out. I just might do it." And do it he did, posting four sub-70 scores at Sedgefield against the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Billy Casper and Julius Boros in their prime to win his eighth GGO at age 52 years, 10 months and 8 days. It was a PGA TOUR record that still stands almost 50 years later.