Who's who: Charlie Sifford

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Who's who: Charlie Sifford

  • Name:

    Charles Luther Sifford
  • Country:

    USA
  • Lived:

    [1922-2015]. Born on June 2, 1922 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Died on Feb 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio (aged 92).
  • Original/Home Club:

    Carolina GC, NC
  • Occupation:

    Professional golfer
  • Turned Pro:

    1948

Roll of Honour

22 professional tournament wins, including PGA Tour (2) and Snr PGA Tour (1). Winner of the 1975 PGA Senior's Championship (before the launch of the Snr PGA Tour in 1980, and before the event became a "major" in 1980). Six-time winner of the UGA National Negro Open.

World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 2004). Old Tom Morris Award (2007, GCSAA). Awarded one of the USA's two highest civilian honours, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014, by Pres Barack Obama).

Did you know?

Sifford grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was introduced to golf while working as a caddie at the Carolina Golf Club. He developed his own golfing skills, under the watchful eye of touring golf professional Clayton Heafner. When he returned from serving in the segregated Army in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, Sifford decided to make a career in golf. He turned professional in 1948 aged 26. As a pro he won five consecutive national titles in the all-black United Golfers Association, but longed to take on the best players on the PGA Tour.

The legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour barrier in that sport, became the inspiration for Sifford to do the same in the sport of golf. Tiger Woods, who refers to Sifford as "the grandpa I never had," credits Sifford's trailblazing contribution for paving the way for his own introduction to golf and subsequent phenomenal career.

During his career Sifford recorded 22 professional wins, including two on the PGA Tour and one on the Senior PGA Tour. His seismic contribution to golf was recognised when Sifford became the first black golfer inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was only the third golfer, behind Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA's highest civilian honour.

Top tournaments won by Charlie Sifford

1980
America
Suntree CC, FL
279 (-9)
$20,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Sifford, Charlie

Venue

Suntree CC, FL

Score

279 (-9)

Prize money

$20,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Suntree Senior Classic. Second-placed Don January (USA) finished 4 shots behind Sifford (USA), who recorded his first (and only) US Snr Tr win. [Suntree CC, Melbourne, Florida].

1975
America
280 (-8)
$7,500
PGA of America

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Sifford, Charlie

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$7,500

Title sponsor

PGA of America

Played as the PGA Seniors' Championship. Sifford (USA) beat Fred Wampler (USA) with a 22-foot birdie putt at the first playoff hole. [Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Sifford, Charlie

Score

276 (-8)

Prize money

$20,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Los Angeles Open (Jan 9-12; PGA Tour season-opener). Sifford (USA) beat Harold Henning (RSA) with a birdie at the first playoff hole, to record the second of his two PGA Tour wins. [Rancho Park GC, Los Angeles, CA].

1967
America
Wethersfield CC
272 (-12)
$20,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Sifford, Charlie

Venue

Wethersfield CC

Score

272 (-12)

Prize money

$20,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Greater Hartford Open Invitational (Aug 17-20). Second-placed Steve Oppermann (USA) finished 1 shot behind 45-year-old Charlie Sifford (USA), who recorded the first of his two PGA Tour wins. [Wethersfield CC, nr Hartford, CT].

1963
America
277 (-7)
$1,200
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Sifford, Charlie

Venue

Berwind

Score

277 (-7)

Prize money

$1,200

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Puerto Rico Open (Feb 28-Mar 3; US PGA-sanctioned Caribbean tour event). Second-placed and defending champion George Knudson (Can) finished 6 shots behind 39-year-old Charlie Sifford (USA), who claimed his first win in a 72-hole PGA-sanctioned event. [Berwind CC, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico].

1960
America
Almaden G&CC
281 (-7)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Sifford, Charlie

Venue

Almaden G&CC

Score

281 (-7)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Almaden Open (Nov 17-20; non-PGA Tour event, predominantly played by pros based on the West Coast). Charlie Sifford (USA) beat Bill Eggers (USA) with a birdie-four at the first playoff hole. Sifford recorded a hole-in-one in the first round. [Almaden CC, San Jose, CA; now called Almaden G&CC].

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Ryder Cup: Rome plays host to the first ever Ryder Cup to be staged in Italy, with the USA defending golf’s greatest team trophy at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club (Sept 29-Oct 1).

Solheim Cup: also in September, also in southern Europe, the 18th Solheim Cup will be contested at Finca Cortesin on the Costa del Sol, with Europe defending after their surprise win in Toledo, Inverness Club (Ohio) in 2021 (Sept 22-24). 

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Marco Simone Golf & Country Club: With a clubhouse that might befit a Roman Emperor, and a golf course to match, you can be sure of a memorable outing at Rome's most talked about golf facility.

Jim Fazio's original layout was much changed to create a modern Ryder Cup course ... now one of the Eternal City's (and Italy's) most revered.

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