Wednesday, April 9

50 Years Ago at the Masters: Fred Hawkins’ Near Win

What’s that saying? Something about no one remembers who finishes in second?

Fifty years ago, in 1958, Arnold Palmer won his first Green Jacket. Palmer’s play and charisma combined with television forever changed professional golf. Arnie went on to win three more Masters titles in 1960, 1962 and 1964. There’s a plaque honoring Palmer on the second nine at Augusta National.

Last fall I talked to one of the two men who tied for second at the 1958 Masters. His name is Fred Hawkins, and throughout a long PGA Tour career he came in second a lot. Following are excerpts from our conversation.


Essentially, I played about 19 years on the regular tour. I started in 1947 and ended somewhere near the end of the summer of 1965. I started the first tournament at Tam O’Shanter in Chicago. At the time at Tam O’Shanter, they had the men pros, the women pros, the amateurs –- they had a huge field of contestants. That’s where I started. George S. May put it on and he had a lot to do in getting the purses on the tour. His idea was just to charge a dollar a person. I think he gave them free parking, so the course was crowded with people.

As far as my career, basically I played those years and only won two official tournaments. I won four or five other non-official smaller tournaments. By two different counts, I had 27 second-place finishes and then the PGA had several of the fellows re-evaluate the records –- some of the records had been lost –- they had me at 19 second-place finishes. That’s still a lot of seconds for only winning twice. But I always felt that –- although once or twice I had a lead and didn’t play well the last round and someone beat me –- the rest of the time I had a little trouble getting started and finished with good rounds but someone always beat me. So a lot of things happened. I’ve always said I was lucky in life but not really lucky in golf.

I tied for second in the 1958 Masters the first year Arnold Palmer won. I was tied with Doug Ford. And Doug had won the tournament the year before. It was the year that Arnold –- there was a question about a ruling on his ball on the 12th hole. They first had him up for a 5. Doug and I thought we were leading until we got to the 17th tee. He (Ford) had to make one birdie to tie, and I had to make two birdies to tie. I birdied 17 from about 10 feet, and he (Ford) had a putt of about 6 or 7 feet and missed it. And then we both hit the green at 18. My putt kind of caught the edge of the hole and came out. That’s the history of the way things go.

I did play on the Ryder Cup team in 1957.
I’ve always felt that was one of the things I enjoyed the most. I would have been on the Ryder Cup team again in 1959, I believe, if they had counted that tournament where Hogan beat me in the playoff. But at that time the tour officials were squabbling with the people at Colonial. It was not called an official tournament. It was still an official win for Hogan. The Ryder Cup points didn’t count.

Fred Hawkins lives in Sebring, Florida, and plays in Grand Champions events on the Champions Tour.

−The Armchair Golfer

1 comment :

Phil said...

I looked at the list of finishers at that Masters. Hawkins beat about a dozen current of future major winners in the top 20 to finish a single shot behind Palmer. That's a second place he should be extremely proud of. Those who dismiss second place finishers, especially those that could have easily been a win, do a great injustice to these players.