CHAMPIONS
1994 U.S. Senior Open Champion Simon Hobday Dies March 2, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Simon Hobday won the 1994 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. (USGA/Robert Walker)

South Africa has produced a lot of great golf champions, but few were as colorful as Simon Hobday.

Hobday, who won the 1994 U.S. Senior Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., died on March 2 at the age of 76 after a long bout with cancer.

Born in Mafikeng, South Africa, in 1940, Hobday spent part of his life in Zambia and represented that country in the 1966 World Amateur Team Championship before turning professional in 1969. Between the Sunshine and PGA European Tours, the affable and free-spirited Hobday registered eight of his 17 professional victories, including the 1976 German Open and 1979 Madrid Open.

But it was as a senior golfer that Hobday enjoyed his greatest success. Known as an outstanding ball-striker, Hobday collected five wins on the Senior Tour (known now as PGA Tour Champions), including his one-stroke victory at Pinehurst over Graham Marsh and Jim Albus.

RELATED: Lookback at Simon Hobday's 1994 U.S. Senior Open Triumph

His final title came in the 1995 Brickyard Crossing Championship in Indianapolis by one stroke over Isao Aoki and fellow USGA champions Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin and Bob Murphy.

Close friend Dale Hayes said of Hobday: “David Leadbetter said recently that he used two golf swings as models – Simon Hobday’s and Ben Hogan’s.

“We loved Simon because he was fun-loving, with a wonderful sense of humor. His antics will be spoken about for many years to come.”

At Pinehurst, Hobday opened with rounds of 66-67-66 for what was then a 54-hole, championship-record total of 14-under 199, which gave him a two-stroke lead over Albus. But the chain-smoking Hobday couldn’t keep up his stellar play during Sunday’s final round, and several times grasped his throat as if to signify he was choking.

“My swing deserted me, and the worse I swung, the worse I putted,” Hobday said after the championship. “I must have gone through two packs of cigarettes. Once, I had two going at the same time.”

Hobday opened the final round with three consecutive bogeys. When he bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17, he fell into a tie for the lead with Marsh, with Albus a stroke back.

On the par-4 18th, Hobday managed to two-putt for par from 40 feet, while Marsh failed to get up and down from right of the green. Albus missed a birdie opportunity that would have forced a playoff.

With victory in hand, Hobday, who carded a 75 for a 10-under score of 274, fell to his knees and kissed the Pinehurst turf. Only two months earlier, another South African, Ernie Els, had won the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in a playoff.

With the stress of the championship behind him and the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy in his possession, Hobday was asked about his plans for the evening.

In typical fashion, he responded: “I’ll go with the flow, and there will be plenty flowing. You can bet on it.”

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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