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.
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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.