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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 22:39 GMT 23:39 UK
Golf legend Snead dies
Sam Snead
Snead was the honorary starter at the Masters

Sam Snead, the PGA Tour's all-time leader with 81 victories, has died aged 89 following complications from a stroke.

Snead - widely known as "Slammin' Sammy" - was four days short of his 90th birthday.

He died at his home in Hot Springs, Virginia on Thursday, according to his daughter-in-law Anne Snead.

He had suffered from a series of strokes that began just after The Masters.

"The golf world is going to miss him," said Byron Nelson, a contemporary of Snead's and winner of five Majors between 1937 and 1945.

"I was never amazed at anything he ever did."


Watching Sam Snead practice hitting golf balls is like watching a fish practice swimming
1973 US Open runner-up John Schlee

Snead won three US Masters titles, three US PGA Championships and one Open Championship.

He has been credited with 135 worldwide wins and won tour-sponsored events in six different decades.

"Watching Sam Snead practice hitting golf balls is like watching a fish practice swimming," said John Schlee, who was runner-up in the US Open in 1973.

Last month, Snead was the lone honorary starter at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

He had held the position since 1984 and previously shared the job with Nelson and the late Gene Sarazen.

Snead was famous for his straw hat, keen sense of humour and elegant swing.

Grace and power

He won the Masters for the first time in 1949, the year club members began awarding a green jacket.

He won again three years later, and earned his final Masters victory in 1954 after beating Ben Hogan by one stroke in an 18-hole play-off.

Snead claimed his only Open Championship at St Andrews in 1946, during a time when few Americans travelled across the Atlantic Ocean because of the cost.

Even a victory would not guarantee they could cover their expenses.

He also was a three-time winner of the USPGA Championship during the match-play era, and he made it to the final two other times.

But despite finishing as runner-up four times, the US Open was the one Major to elude him.

Snead was born on 27 May 1912 in Hot Springs and raised during the Depression.

He grew up playing bare foot with clubs made from tree limbs, but his swing was a combination of grace and power.

Sarazen once said of the young player: "I've just watched a kid who doesn't know anything about playing golf, and I don't want to be around when he learns how."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Tony Adamson
"Snead played better for longer than anyone else"
Golfing great
Steve Rider pays tribute to Sam Snead
Golfing great Sam Snead has died

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