20th PGA Championship
A 36-hole qualifying round for match play was conducted the Monday and Tuesday before the Championship. Defending PGA Champion Denny Shute was exempt and 63 players qualified. Byron Nelson was low qualifier with 139. A score of 156 qualified for match play, and 10 players at 157 had a playoff for three spots. The only notable player who didn’t make it to match play was 1931 PGA Champion Tom Creavy, who withdrew after a first-round 79.
The first and second rounds were 18 holes each, played in one day, with the remaining matches being played at 36 holes.
In the finals, Shute’s prospect of becoming the first repeater since Leo Diegel in 1929 looked gloomy, as McSpaden jumped out to a 3-up lead after the first five holes. But Shute found his putting stroke, one-putting nine of the next 13 holes, squaring the match after the front side and then turning things around to finish the morning round 3-up.
In the early stages of the afternoon round, McSpaden was 2-under-par and won four holes to go to the back side with a 1-up lead. When McSpaden bogeyed the 28th hole, the match was square. When Shute made bogeys at the 31st and 32nd holes, McSpaden was 2-up again. Both made pars at the 33rd hole, but McSpaden bunkered his tee shot on the par-3 34th hole. He wasn’t able to get it up and down for par and was only 1-up. Then came the hole that spelled disaster for McSpaden. Both hit perfect tee shots, but when McSpaden badly pulled his second shot under a tree, he wasn’t able to extract the ball and lost the hole to Shute’s bogey.
Going into the last hole, the match was square again for the sixth time of the day, and McSpaden got a lucky break when his tee shot hit a spectator, bouncing into the fairway instead of going into the heavy rough. McSpaden then hit a great second shot to within four feet of the hole in what looked like a sure birdie and victory, since Shute was 50 feet away with his second shot. Shute hit his first putt about three feet short of the hole, giving McSpaden a chance to win the match. He took his stance over the putt, and, when several cameras started grinding away, was forced to back away from the putt. He yelled at the offenders: “Please give me the chance I’ve been fighting for all week.” When quiet was restored among the cameras and the 7,000 spectators who were gathering around, McSpaden went back to the business of making the putt, but missed it. Shute made his putt to send the match into overtime for only the third time in its 20-year history. The first hole had played havoc on Shute all week. But this time the hole proved to be McSpaden’s nemesis, as he missed a 10-footer for par, and Shute made his four-footer to win, 1-up, and become not only the fifth repeat Champion, but the last to accomplish this feat.