GREAT AMERICAN TOUR PLAYER – WALTER HAGEN

Everyone knows that Walter Hagen was a great showman, but what gets lost in the shuffle is the fact that he is third all-time on the Majors victory list. Hagen won two US Opens, five PGA Championships, and four British Opens from 1914-1929, often battling against legends Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen. He arguably could be credited with 16 majors, as the Western Open was considered a major at the time and Hagen won five of those.

 

There are many stories about Hagen the showman, such as the time he had to hole a 12-foot putt to win $1,000 that had been wagered. Hagen stroked the putt, and well before it reached the hole, he turned to the man holding the money and Hagen had his hand already out. Naturally, the ball fell into the cup. Hagen also was instrumental in helping golf professionals come out from their standing as second-class citizens.

 

He is widely considered the first American sportsman to ever earn over $1 million from various sources directly attributable to his skill as a golfer. Hagen also spent much of it, living up to a reputation (some of it embellished at the encouragement of Hagen) as someone who likes to have a good time. Hagen died in Traverse City, Michigan, in 1969 at the age of 76.

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