SO WHO IS THE GREATEST golfer to never win a U.S. Open? That’s easy. Samuel Jackson Snead. Snead was a bridesmaid four times in what was often called the National Open in an earlier era.
Snead won a record 82 PGA Tour events, including seven majors. Sam’s last victory came at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at the age of 52, also a record. But, like Phil Mickelson (to date), the Slammer never broke through at the U.S. Open.
Ben Hogan (4) and Byron Nelson (1) won five between them. It surely haunted Snead, who had several near misses at the national championship.
The late Bob Rosburg played with Snead in the 1955 U.S. Open.
“He said nobody can win the Open that’s missed as many putts as I have,” Rossie told me last October. “He had a phobia about the Open and I think that’s why he never won.”
One of those missed putts − a two-and-a-half footer − was on the final hole of an 18-hole playoff against Lew Worsham in the 1947 U.S. Open at St. Louis Country Club. Both players had short par putts.
“The putts were very close to the same length,” wrote veteran golf writer and Snead biographer Al Barkow in the New York Times.
“Snead thought he was farther away, and prepared to play. But when he was standing over his ball and just about to make his stroke, Worsham stopped him and called for a measurement to see who, in fact, was away. It was his right to do so, and so officials brought out a tape measure. As it happened, Snead was farthest from the hole − 30 1/2 inches to Worsham’s 29 1/2.
“After the delay of some five minutes, Snead missed his slippery downhill putt. Worsham made his, an easier uphill putt, and Snead was once again denied the only major championship he never won.”
−The Armchair Golfer