Jamieson passes away at age 75
December 07, 2018
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
- Jamieson claimed the 1972 Western Open for his lone PGA TOUR win. (Reg Innell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
In a PGA TOUR career that lacked the sort of highlights he may have envisioned for himself, Jim Jamieson could at least point to one that carried enormous personal satisfaction.
At Sunset Ridge Country Club on the outskirts of Chicago, Jamieson in the summer of 1972 was a local kid, playing in front of family and friends from his hometown of Moline at the Western Open. Though he built an impressive eight-shot lead through 54 holes, Jamieson only had to look up and down his gallery to realize what was at stake that Sunday.
“I couldn’t let them down, but I’ll admit I was nervous when I started,” Jamieson told reporters after closing with a 69 to finish at 13-under 271 and win by six. He choked back his emotions and kept accepting congratulations from well-wishers.
“I’m still in a Twilight zone.”
It would be the only win in Jamieson’s nine-year PGA TOUR career, but the relative quiet of his pro success isn’t what defined the man who died Wednesday at 75. Instead, Tony Navarro – a longtime caddie who grew up in Moline and considered Jamieson a sort of mentor – gushed about “a real sweetheart, a gentleman” and a moving force to bring the PGA TOUR to their hometown area.
“He was very much a part of starting the Quad Cities Open (now the John Deere Classic),” said Navarro. “All of us in the area were very proud of him for that and happy that he brought it here.”
Having advanced from the caddie ranks at Oakwood Country Club in Moline to star for Oklahoma State’s 1963 NCAA Championship golf team, Jamieson made it onto the PGA TOUR in 1969 at the age of 26. His relatively late start is owed to a reason that few young golfers could relate to – Jamieson served a military stint in Vietnam.
Jamieson played the bulk of his 236 tournaments between 1969 and 1977 when he broke a hand and decided to retire. His best season was 1972, when he won the Western Open and a few weeks later produced his best finish in a major, tied for second, two shots behind Gary Player at Oakland Hills in the PGA Championship.
He was 15th on the money list that year, then was inside the top 60 in 1973 and ’74, but 1975-77 was a rough stretch for Jamieson and he chose to accept a job at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The area became home for Jamieson, who befriended his predecessor at the Greenbrier, Sam Snead.
“That gave him a lot of stories to tell,” laughed Navarro. “And Jim did love to tell stories and listen to stories. He was a nice man.”
When he triumphed at that 1972 Western Open, Jamieson became the first Illinois golfer to win that tournament since the legendary Chick Evans in 1910. So important a win was it for Jamieson that he took $2,000 of his $30,000 first-place prize and donated it to the Evans Scholars Foundation.
Years later, Jamieson was inducted into the Quad-Cities Sports Hall of Fame and put his PGA TOUR career into perspective. “I didn’t have enough killer instinct,” he told reporters. “But golf has really been good to me. I have no regrets.”