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Golfing great Sam Snead dies at 89
Links legend Sam Snead dies
Murray: Snead's an American legend
Sam Snead: Career highlights
Only old age could stop Snead
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Players remember the stories, and the swing
DUBLIN Ohio -- Sam Snead developed his sweet swing at an early age and carried it with him for a lifetime. Even though he was four days away from his 90th birthday and his health was poor, PGA Tour players were shocked to hear of his death.
"He what?'' Phil Mickelson exclaimed on the practice green at the Memorial.
Indeed, Snead was seemingly ageless, remembered by current players as a great athlete, a raconteur extraordinaire and one of the greatest players ever.
"Sam Snead not only was one of the greatest players, he became a mystical figure over time with the legendary stories of his swing and what he could do with the golf ball,'' Mickelson said.
Snead died Thursday afternoon at his Hot Springs, Va., home after suffering a series of strokes since the Masters, where he hit the ceremonial tee shot one last time.
"When you think about a short list of champions who have made an indelible mark on the character and growth of our sport, Sam Snead is on the list every time,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.
His impact spanned nearly a century, touching even 22-year-old Sergio Garcia.
"He's going to a better place, I'm sure,'' said Garcia, who grew up in Spain but met Snead during a trip to the Masters. "Hopefully, they're playing some good golf up there.''
"I can remember watching him play when I was 13 years old. I'll always remember Sam by the smile he had on his face,'' Jeff Maggert said. "Every time you saw him, he had a big grin on his face.''
Snead's sweet swing, sense of humor and competitive fire left an impression on all whom he encountered.
Lee Janzen said he recalled when he was 14 years old and saw Snead play in an exhibition match.
"I was just amazed at how he played,'' Janzen said. "He was a legend and a great storyteller and he was always a lot of fun.''
Janzen added, "I always heard he was a riot at the Masters champions dinners. I'm sure they're going to miss him a lot. Maybe someday I'll get to go to the champions dinner and hear stories about him.''
Even those who didn't know him -- or didn't know him well -- had heard tales which revolved around Snead.
"I met him twice in passing,'' David Duval said. "It was a real hoot listening to him.''
Snead also was known as a headstrong man who didn't abide fools and had a low tolerance for fakes.
"You always knew where he was coming from. There was no sugarcoating anything,'' John Cook said. "He was the epitome of saying what you want to say and going about your business.''
Snead won his last tour event in 1965, then went on to win 14 seniors events, including six PGA Seniors' Championships.
Even after he was limited by age and health to ceremonial appearances on the course, he still was a crowd favorite.
"They honored him one year at The Players Championship and I got a chance to meet him,'' Tom Lehman said. "Just watching him on the range in his 80s, his athleticism was still very evident. I actually felt he was more flexible than some of the young guys out there hitting balls, even at his age.''
"Anytime you lose a legend, it's a part of golf history that's no longer there. It's sad that he's gone.''
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