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1977 HONOREES: WALTER HAGEN
Walter Hagen did more than any other individual in the history of golf to raise the status of the professional player. By his elegance, exuberance, audacity and princely lifestyle, he obliged the then socially exclusive world of golf to accept him, and ultimately all professionals as equals. By being the first golfer to win a million dollars at the game – and spending it flamboyantly - he opened the eyes of his fellow professionals to the financial potential of their skills.
Between 1914 and 1929, “Sir Walter” won the PGA Championship five times, the British Open four times, and the U.S. Open twice. He also won the Western Open five times between 1916 and 1932, during which period it was commonly regarded as a major championship.
Generally considered to have been the greatest match player of all time, Hagen won four of his five PGA titles consecutively (1924-27) with 22 straight 36-hole match-play victories. He also won most of the head-to-head challenge matches he undertook against leading golfers of the day, including a 12 and 11 defeat of Bob Jones over 72 holes in 1926.