Billy Joe Patton, 1954 Masters (Golf)



The affable young amateur from South Carolina found himself in the lead on Sunday after a 32 on the front nine, which included a hole-in-one on the 6th. When he reached the par-5 No. 13, he was told that his closest competitor, Ben Hogan, had just made a double bogey on 11. All Patton had to do was play it safe to become the first amateur to win the Masters. But no. Instead of laying up to avoid Rae’s Creek, he went for the green, and his ball found the water. He removed his shoes and socks and waded into the stream but reconsidered and decided to take a drop for a one-stroke penalty. Still barefoot, he pitched onto the green and two-putted for a bogey 6. Patton then parred in for a 290, one shot behind Hogan and Sam Snead (who defeated Hogan in a playoff).

In retrospect, Patton claimed that he wouldn’t have played it any differently. “I was elated to play as well as I did,” he said. “I’m almost delighted I lost, in fact. Otherwise, I might have turned pro.”


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