At dinner conversation, a memory struck Wesley about the 1947 U.S. Open. The tournament that Sam “Slammin’ Sammy’ Snead never won, was perhaps one of the greatest golf examples of gamesmanship.
At this Open, Snead was looking likely to sink his first Open title, having been within reach at two prior Opens. However, a newcomer named Lew Worsham, came up from behind on the back nine to tie Snead. With a bogey on seventeen, Snead needs a birdie on eighteen to tie Worsham, and cause a playoff round the next day.
On the eighteenth hole, Lew is forty feet from the cup and chips a shot that rims the hole and settles two and a half feet away. Snead putts and his ball comes up short at what appears to be two and a half feet away from the hole. Snead proceeds to finish his putt for birdie when Worsham calls rules officiate, Ike Grainger, to measure the distance of the balls to determine who is next to putt.
It is determined that Snead is one and a half inches long. Snead, who is unhappy with the unnecessary interruption, misses his putt for birdie. Worsham then makes his par putt, claiming the championship.
Gamesmenship allows that if players are uncertain of who is away, they have the right to have the balls measured. Wesley thinks Worsham knew, in a last attempt to win, if he were to call for the official measurement it would interfere with Snead’s ability to finish his putt.
Snead had prior shown Worsham his lucky putter before the hole. Did Snead perhaps give away too much of his game to Worsham in this moment, prompting Worsham to get inside his head?
Pictured above is part of the official measurement.