Golf’s first Grand Slammer, “The Squire” changed golf with “the shot heard ‘round the world.”
“When Sarazen saw a chance at the bacon hanging over the last green, he could put as much fire and fury into a finishing round as Jack Dempsey could put into a fight.”
Golf legend Gene Sarazen was born Eugenio Saraceni on February 27, 1902 in Harrison, New York. A sixth-grade dropout, Sarazen turned pro at 16 and enjoyed one of the longest and most successful careers in professional golf history.
Sarazen played – and won – his first US Open in 1922, becoming the very first player to shoot under 70 in the final round to win. He took the PGA championship at Oakmont later that same year. In 1929, he asserted himself as an innovator in the sport by developing a weighted practice club. Two years later, Sarazen made what he considered his greatest contribution to golf by developing the modern sand wedge. In 1932, he won the British Open and US Open. In the latter, he played the last 28 holes in 100 strokes, posting a closing round of 66 – a record until 1960.
In capturing the 1935 Masters, Sarazen became the first Grand Slam title winner. His double-eagle shot is known affectionately as “the shot heard ‘round the world”, and is credited with bringing The Masters to mainstream attention. Throughout the course of his career, Sarazen earned 38 PGA Tour victories, including seven major championships. He was a charter member of the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 and elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. He received the US Golf Association’s Bob Jones Award in 1992.
Sarazen died May 13, 1999.