Doug Sanders, who missed one of the most calculated kicks to win in British Open history, has died of natural causes. He was 86 years old. Sanders, known as the “Peacock of Fairway”, was one of the most colorful characters in PGA TourHe won 20 titles including the 1956 Canadian Open. He had four runner-up positions in the Grand Slams with the 1970 Open being ingrained in the minds of most golf enthusiasts. When he made it to the final green, he needed a three-footed shot to beat Jack Nicklaus. But he missed it, sending the championship to an 18-hole playoff the following day as Niklaus punched him on the last hole to defeat him.
“I missed a 30-inch shot on the last green that would have won the 1970 British Open,” Sanders said. “That’s all anybody wants to talk about.”
“I’ve won 20 times on the PGA Tour, and if you give me one birdie, four pars and a ghost wherever I can put them, I’ll have five majors.
“But that’s what everyone remembers (in St. Andrews). What can I say? It’s what I remember most too.”
Sanders similarly finished a kick behind Bob Rosberg in the 1959 PGA Championship at Minneapolis Golf Club. A stroke from Jane Littler at the 1961 US Open in Auckland Hills, and a short one from Nicklaus at the 1966 Open at Muirfield.
He also had a third-round lead at the 1960 PGA Championship but finished as runner-up to winner Jay Herbert.
Esquire magazine once named Sanders one of the “Ten Best Dressed Players in America”.
He liked to say the most common questions of the tour, “What did Arnold Palmer shoot?” and “What is Doug Sanders wearing?”
The Cedartown, Georgia native boasted of owning over 300 pairs of shoes. “The clothes make the man,” Sanders said.
Sanders has also played in 218 events on the Big Champions Tour and hosted his own tournament, the Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic.
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