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The Capricorn Golfer

The CAPRICORN Golf Legend: Cary Middlecoff

  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1986
  • Major Championship Victories: 3
  • U.S. Open: 1949, 1956
  • Masters: 1955
  • PGA Tour Victories: 37

Cary Middlecoff is often remembered for his methodic and often maddeningly slow pace of play. At the 1957 U.S. Open, Middlecoff shot 68 in his last two rounds to get into a playoff with Dick Mayer. This is memorable for many reasons, but specifically, it was when Mayer showed up for the playoff with a camping stool-- a not-so-subtle comment on Middlecoff’s fastidiousness. Whether this bit of gamesmanship had an effect on Middlecoff’s round that day we may never know but he shot a terrible 79 to lose by seven shots.

Cary MiddlecoffBorn on January 6, 1921 in Halls, Tennessee he earned the nickname “The Ghost” as a boy because he was always hanging around the town country clubs, looking for tips on his swing. Considered long off the tee and sporting a 6’ 2” frame he seemed more interested in hitting the ball as far as he could than in perfecting any kind of technique. As a teenager, he won the Memphis City Championship and the Tennessee State Amateur and later became the first amateur to win the North and South Open while playing in the final group with Ben Hogan and Gene Sarzen! He used his length to his advantage in later years by simply knocking the ball farther than his opponents and overpowering the courses of the day.

Middlecoff, a qualified dentist, almost gave up golf for dentistry during World War II when he spent an 18- month tour of active duty –filling thousands of teeth. After the war his passion for golf overrode his desire for steady work in the dental profession and he decided to try the PGA Tour with the provision that if he was not successful within two years he would go back to dentistry. In his rookie year at the Charlotte Open, he tied the course record in the final round and walked off with the winner’s check. Two years later, he won the 1949 U.S. Open at Medinah.

 

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Middlecoff never went back to dentistry and established himself as one of the premier golfer’s of the 1950’s. In the 1955 Masters he won by a then-record seven shots and at the next year’s U.S. Open he held off Ben Hogan and Julius Boros at Oak Hill. He retired in 1961 but by then, had racked up 37 career victories and was seventh on the PGA Tour’s all-time list.

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