Rules Throwback: Stroke Play vs. Match Play
May 19, 2016
In the 1947 U.S. Open, Sam Snead and Lew Worsham squared off in an 18-hole, stroke-play playoff at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club after the two posted 72-hole scores of 2-under par 282. The competitors came to the final hole of the playoff still tied. After a long birdie try, Snead was lining up his short par putt from about 30 inches away when Worsham, who also had a short par attempt coming, called for a referee to determine who was away. The referee used a string to measure and determined that Snead was 30.5 inches away to Worsham’s 29.5 inches. While an opponent in match play can require a stroke that is played out of turn to be re-played, in stroke play, there is no penalty for playing out of turn, and it is commonly accepted that a player who has just putted can finish out a short putt if they choose to do so. Snead wanted to finish out without measuring, and appeared flustered by the delay. In the end, he missed his short par attempt. When Worsham made his, he was crowned the U.S. Open champion, capturing his first and only major title. For Snead, the U.S. Open would prove to be the only major that he would never win; his near-miss in 1947 was his second of four career runner-up performances in the championship.