The Latest from our Pulitzer Prize-Winning Blogger Gilbert King: Agony and Ecstasy at the Masters Tournament
There were already whispers that Craig Wood was a bad-luck golfer when, in late March of 1935, he accepted an offer from Bobby Jones to play in his second Augusta National Invitational Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Known as the “Blond Bomber,” Wood had literally made a splash at the 1933 British Open at St. Andrews—he had tied Denny Shute for the lead after 72 holes, but lost in a playoff when his booming drive found the famous Swilcan Burn, a thin channel of water that cuts across the first fairway.
At the inaugural “Masters” (as it would later become known), in 1934, Wood had lost to Horton Smith, who inconceivably holed two long putts on the final holes to win by a stroke. Later that year, Wood finished second in the 1934 PGA Championship, losing once again in a playoff to Paul Runyan, who just a few years before had been his assistant pro at Forest Hills Golf Club in White Plains, New York.
Still, Wood, a native of Lake Placid, New York, was a polished and respected player when he arrived in Augusta in April 1935; a reporter described him as someone “who has so often had the door to opportunity slammed in his face.” By the end of the 1935 Augusta National Invitational, however, Craig Wood would be known as the most jinxed golfer the game had ever known. Continue reading at Smithsonian.com
Editor’s note: Read more from King in this account of the true-life horror that inspired “Moby Dick.”
Photo: Boston Public Library