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1976


Jerry Pate

Jerry Pate played one of the more memorable shots in Open history and won the 1976 Championship with a score of 277 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Duluth, Georgia. Pate, 22, was leading three players by one stroke on the 72nd hole, a 460-yard, par-4 with a lake in front of the green. From the right rough he hit a 5-iron shot within two feet of the cup and scored a birdie 3. He won by two strokes over Al Geiberger and Tom Weiskopf. John Mahaffey, grouped with Pate, hit his second shot into the lake, made 5, and finished with 280, tied for fourth place with Butch Baird.

Pate was remarkably consistent. He shot rounds of 71, 69, 69, and 68 over the four days. Mike Reid, a 21-year-old amateur from Seattle, Washington, scored three-under par 67, the only sub-par score of the first round and led by three strokes over five others tied at 70. Reid shot 81 in the second round, followed by 80-72 for a 300 total, which tied him with John Fought, of Portland, Oregon as low amateur. Mahaffey shot 68 in the second round and led with 138 for 36 holes, followed by Geiberger at 139. Ben Crenshaw, Rod Funseth and Pate tied for third at 10.

Mahaffey continued to lead after the third round with 207 while Pate finished two strokes behind. Geiberger was at 210 while Weiskopf stood at 211. Crenshaw went two over par and was at 212. The day was marred by rain and lightning which delayed play for one hour and 26 minutes. Mahaffey led by six strokes at one stage during the third round, but bogied 16 and 17 to finish the day just two strokes ahead of pate. Pate was four over par after the first four holes, but then made three birdies and an eagle and finished the round with 69, one under par.

Mahaffey clung to his lead as late as the 15th hole of the final round, but bogied the final three holes, scored 73 and dropped into a tie for fourth place. Geibeger and Weiskopf, playing just ahead of Pate and Mahaffey, seemed to be in position to win the Championship, but both drove poorly on the 72nd hole and played their second shots short of the water hazard and saved their par-4s. Pate then played his dramatic 5-iron out of the rough, over the pond, and onto the 72nd green for the Championship.

Prize money came to $253,000 including $500 to each professional who started but did not make the 36-hle cut. Attendance reached a new high of 113,084 for four days, 15,739 over the record established in 1975 at the Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois. Another Open record was set when 4,436 players filed entries; this was 157 more than filed in 1971 when the Open was held at the Merion Golf Club, Armore, Pennsylvania.

OPEN RECORDS


Starts - 12

Best Finish - Winner 1976

Rds - 34

Cuts Made - 5

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 2

Top 10 - 2

Top 25 - 4

Avg. - 73.41

Scores In 60s - 5

Rds Under Par - 6

Earnings - $73,900