Muirfield Village Golf Club and its most famous member are all the rage this week as the Memorial Tournament and its host Jack Nicklaus hit the PGA Tour track in Dublin.
About 40 miles south, a public golf course less renowned for decades also shared a connection with Ohio golf royalty. Cooks Creek, which ceased golf operations in 2021, was run by the Cook family, of which John Cook is the most decorated member.
Cook was born in Toledo, raised in Mansfield and Akron until age 10, then moved to California with his family. He returned to Buckeye State to play golf at Ohio State, where he helped win the 1979 National Championship.
“I’m proud to be an Ohioan,” said Cook, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. “No matter where I lived — in (USC) Trojan Nation and then Florida Gator Nation — I was a Buckeye activist. Now, in Sun Devil Nation, I’m still an activist Buckeye. My golf bag is still gray and my head is covered in scarlet.
The diehard Buckeye is also proud to be among the top 10 Ohio-born golfers not named Nicklaus.
“I’m really honored because it’s a really strong roster,” Cook said.
In effect. This is also my list, which means it’s subjective, but objectively speaking, I think the 10 golfers are the right choices. If there is a quibble, whether it is on the order of classification; disagreement is what makes these lists fun.
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Now let’s get down to business.
Born in Massillon, the 79-year-old Ohioan is best known today as a golf course architect (Double Eagle in Galena ranks among his best), but in the 1970s he was one of the best players in the world .
Weiskopf, who like Nicklaus and Cook played for Ohio State, won 16 PGA Tour titles between 1968 and 1982, including the 1973 Open Championship at Royal Troon. He was also a four-time Masters runner-up and tied for second at the 1976 US Open.
Weiskopf struggled in the shadow of Nicklaus, who finished off a hit from him and Johnny Miller at the 1975 Masters, but Northeast Ohio got the better of the Golden Bear at the Omnium 1975 Canadian Championship, where he scored a one-hole playoff victory. . Weiskopf also played on two Ryder Cup teams.
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Known for much of his career on the tour as “The Towering Inferno” for his temperament on the course, Weiskopf then mellowed on the Champions Tour, where in 1995 he won the US Senior Open.
“Most people are soft,” he said after winning the Senior Open. “I wish I had that attitude 20 years ago.”
2. Dow Finsterwald
Born in Athens, the 92-year-old with the unusual first name won 11 tour titles between 1955 and 1963, including the 1958 PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club near Philadelphia. Finsterwald, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, won the first PGA Championship held in stroke play, beating Billy Casper by two strokes. The year before, in 1957, Finsterwald had finished second the last time the championship was in match play. He played on four Ryder Cup teams, serving as a non-playing captain for Team USA in 1977.
3. Denny Shute
Born in Cleveland, Shutte won three major championships in the 1930s: 1933 Open Championship and 1936-37 PGA Championships, becoming the last player to win back-to-back PGA Championships until Tiger Woods did so in 1999-2000. He also played in three Ruder Cup teams. .
4. Gay Brewer
Born in Middletown and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Brewer won 10 times on the tour, including the 1967 Masters, which he called “the greatest thrill I’ve had in golf,” and competed in the 1967 Ryder Cup.
Brewer, who died in 2007, was known for his jovial personality, but it burned him to lose the 1966 Masters to Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff that also included Tommy Jacobs. Brewer arrived at the 72nd hole with a one-stroke lead, needing just a par to win but three putts to bogey and create Monday’s playoff.
In 1967, Brewer set the tour record for the lowest 54-hole total (191) played on the same par 72 course.
5. John Cook
‘Cookie’ has never won a major – missing a 2½-foot birdie putt on the 71st hole of the 1992 Open Championship that likely would have won the Claret Jug that still gnaws at him – but that’s the only regret on its dashboard.
“I look back and feel very fortunate and fortunate,” he said. “My career is what it is. I never packed it.
Rather the opposite. Cook has won three of his 11 tour victories in the playoffs, including winning the 1983 Canadian Open by a stroke over Johnny Miller. His longevity was also impressive, spreading his 11 wins over 20 seasons. He finished runner-up twice in major tournaments and appeared in the 1993 Ryder Cup.
Cook, 64, has 21 professional wins, but two of his proudest moments were winning the 1979 US Amateur and helping Ohio State win the national title.
“I’m really proud of that,” he said of the NCAA title. “That’s why you go to college, to compete. That’s why I went to Ohio State and played with Coach (Jim) Brown. In 1977, we got closer. In 1978 we were ranked #1 all year and spitting horribly. Then in 1979 we said, “OK, it’s our time” and we took it down. Really, what a thrill.
6. Jason Dufner
The 45-year-old creator of ‘Dufnering’ – a slouched sitting position that became a viral social media meme – was born in Cleveland and lived there until he was 11, when he moved in Washington, DC, then in South Florida. The 2017 Memorial Tournament winner burst onto the Tour scene with a second-place finish at the 2011 PGA Championship, then became a media sensation by winning the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York.
Dufner has five tour wins and five top-five finishes in major tournaments. He played in the 2012 Ryder Cup and the 2013 Presidents Cup. He rose to No. 6 in the world and has been playing on tour since 2009.
7. Melvin “Chick” Harbert
Match play competition was more common before 1958, and the Dayton-born Harbert was dangerous in the head-to-head format, especially at the PGA Championship, where he compiled a 24-10 record.
Herbert, who died in 1992, won seven times on tour, including the 1954 PGA Championship at Keller Golf Club near St. Paul, Minnesota. He had 11 top-10 finishes in the majors and played on two Ryder Cup teams, including as captain in 1955.
8. Ben Curtis
Perhaps no other Ohio-born golfer has shocked the world quite like Curtis, who came out of nowhere to win the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s 300-1. .
Curtis, 45, grew up in Ostrander playing Mill Creek Golf Club. He attended Buckeye Valley and then Kent State, where as a college golfer he joined John Cook, Arnold Palmer and Frank Stranahan as the only players to win the Ohio Amateur in consecutive years.
But the biggest prize came in England, where Curtis became the first golfer since Francis Ouimet at the 1913 US Open to win a major championship debut. He won the Open Championship by a stroke over Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh in the last two hours which saw names such as Tiger Woods and Davis Love III falter. But not Curtis, who was the only player to finish under par (-1).
Good enough for a stranger.
“I didn’t even know if (Curtis) was American or not,” Fred Couples admitted afterwards.
Curtis, who lives near Hudson, Ohio, finished his career with four wins on the tour and had four top-10 finishes at the majors, including a second at the 2008 PGA Championship.
9. Frank Stranahan
Known as “The Toledo Strongman”, Stranahan did not follow the usual path to golf stardom. He first rose to prominence as a weightlifter, ranking No. 1 in his weight class in powerlifting from 1945 to 1954.
Stranahan, who died in 2013, received golf lessons from Byron Nelson, who was Inverness’ Toledo pro. From there he won back-to-back Ohio Amateurs (1941-42) and rose to fame winning the 1948 and 1950 British Amateur, which at the time was considered a major championship. He finished second in the 1947 Masters, the 1953 Open Championship and the 1950 US Amateur.
10. Tom Nieporte
The former Ohio State-Cincinnati golfer won the NCAA championship in 1951, then turned pro in 1953 and played full-time on tour for five years, winning three events. His biggest victory came in 1967 at the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Nieporte, who died in 2014, had his best result in a major tournament (T5) at the 1964 PGA Championship.