This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Charles Schwab Challenge. The tournament first known as the Colonial National Invitation was played annually at the historic Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, making it the longest-running host of a PGA TOUR event. Ben Hogan, who is immortalized with a statue at the club, has won five times at Colonial, including the inaugural event in 1946. Daniel Berger’s victory last year was also memorable, entering the first event after the break induced by COVID. Former Colonial Champions also include Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Price, and Tom Watson. To mark this year’s special anniversary, here are the top 10 moments in the venerable history of the Charles Schwab Challenge, presented in chronological order.
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The inaugural Colonial National Invitation featured a field of the top 24 players in terms of earnings and 12 top amateurs. Only five amateurs were selected in the first year as many were still in the military or had new jobs after WWII.
The unique tournament was praised by players for its lavish $ 15,000 purse and benefits such as no entry fees, no caddy fees and no club fees.
Longtime club pro Harry Todd from Dallas, turned pro in 1944, held the lead in the third round at 1. Sam Snead was one shot back and home favorite Ben Hogan was trailed by three.
After rounds of 71-70-70, Todd said he thought another 70 would be enough for the win. He managed to shoot 1 under 69 on Sunday, but lost suddenly.
Hogan stormed to the top with a 65. He took the lead with three consecutive birdies from 11th place, then hung with a back nine of 32. He was the only player to finish under par. , at 1 under 279. Hogan’s 65 would remain the course record for 24 years.
Hogan won his fifth NIT title in the tournament’s opening playoffs, beating Fred Hawkins by four strokes over 18 holes. Hogan shot Hawkins’ 69 to 73 for the final victory of his career.
Hawkins was playing a new set of Hogan clubs that his friend gave him before the tournament. Hogan, 46, was going for his first victory since his record breaking year of 1953, when he won three majors.
Hogan could have won in regulation but missed a 2 1/2 foot putt on the 72nd hole. “I was completely convinced I could sink the putt,” Hogan said, but the ball stopped an inch from the cup. “I guess I haven’t hit enough club,” Hogan said with a smile afterward.
Hogan’s victory had special significance. It was the first time his wife, Valerie, had watched a trick that won him a title. And he also received a festive hug from his mother, Clara. “I struggled a few times here,” Clara said. “I was planning on going out on Sunday, but I was listening to it on the radio, and it was so exciting I was afraid I would miss something if I left the house.”
Arnold Palmer had considered jumping Colonial after winning in Las Vegas, his third victory in four starts. After all, his best result in six visits to Fort Worth was a tie for sixth.
But Palmer decided to honor his previous engagement after speaking with colonial officials.
Palmer tried a different strategy to negotiate his way through the tree doglegs. Instead of hitting the irons on many tees like he often did on the 7,112 yard course, Palmer went with the driver.
Paired with Gary Player, Palmer had 3 under through nine holes. He missed just one fairway on his 67 opening. “When I stood on 12 I was 1 under and felt like a hacker,” Player said.
But Palmer failed to maintain his driving precision and lead. Known for his thrilling stretch runs, he nearly collapsed in the fourth lap. Bogeys on two of the last three holes left him tied for the lead with Johnny Pott, who overcame a seven-stroke deficit with a 69.
In Monday’s 18-hole playoffs, the second in tournament history, Palmer birdied at 11, 15 and 16. He won by four strokes.
Julius Boros became the first player other than Hogan to win multiple colonial titles. Three years after overcoming a one-shot deficit by shooting a 70 par, Boros shot a 71st final round to extend his third round lead from one to four shots.
Although Hogan missed the event for the first time since its inception, Boros had to withstand challenges from Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, who finished second and third respectively.
Boros was never seriously threatened on Sunday. Although the player came within two strokes of the header, Boros responded with a birdie of 14 and then patiently got stuck to parry the rest of the way.
“After that birdie, I thought if I just parried I would win,” said Boros. “So I just started aiming for the center of the greens.”
Boros’ score of 1 under 279 was Colonial’s first subtotal since Chandler Harper’s 276 in 1955. But Boros played on purpose, choosing to avoid mistakes. He made eight pars and a bogey up front, then countered his bogey on 10 with the birdie on 14.
“I knew where I was,” he said. “There are scoreboards all over the course. I kept an eye on them.
Improving Hogan in Texas was nothing new for Boros. His decisive victory came at the 1952 US Open at the Northwood Club in Dallas, where he ended Hogan’s bid for a third straight Open title.
Keith Clearwater had never played at the Colonial. After five PGATOUR qualifying schools, the 27-year-old was just starting to spot himself as a rookie.
So when Clearwater kicked off at 7:22 a.m. on Sunday, only a small group of sleeping spectators and several volunteers were at the first start. No photographers. No network cameras.
The little-known rookie was tied 19 points for 25th, five shots behind. “Just another Saturday lap after making the cut,” Clearwater said.
But in Sunday’s 36-hole final of the rain-delayed event, Clearwater went historic on the venerable course. He shot two six-under-64 rounds to become the tournament’s first winner. He beat Davis Love III by three shots and tied Corey Pavin’s 1985 tournament record of 14 under 266.
Clearwater made 13 birdies and a bogey the last two laps, taking advantage of the course softened by the rain. His paycheck of $ 108,000 nearly matched his earnings as the main winner on the Tournament Players Association minor league tour the previous year.
He called it “the greatest experience of my life, at least on the golf course.”
Tom Watson visited the new World Golf Hall of Fame before arriving in Fort Worth, then added another remarkable feat to his legendary career at Colonial. He inscribed his name on the Wall of Champions, joining Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer and Snead at the age of 48.
Watson had moved closer to Colonial. He was third twice, fourth four times, and was stripped of 20 years of being the first player to complete four below-par rounds at Colonial without winning. This time he was tied for the lead when his drive over No.8 landed in a fairway bunker.
Watson faced a tough lie with his feet on the edge of the bunker, several inches above the ball. A stiff crosswind was blowing, and a pond in front of the green left little room for error. Watson snuggled up with longtime caddy Bruce Edwards.
“There was no idea to fold,” Watson said. “The discussion was whether to hit an 8 or 9 iron. We went for the 8 because of the reduced swing speed of the awkward position. I was just trying to make contact and not hit him hard.
The high fade came down 10 feet from the hole. Watson rolled in the birdie putt for a one-stroke lead over partner Jim Furyk, finishing with a bogeyless 66 for his 39th and final PGATOUR victory.
“Winning at my age is a rarity,” Watson said. “I didn’t know if I would win another tournament on this TOUR.”