Throwback Thursday: Walter Hagen vs. Gene Sarazen

The Scoop

NCG's weekly look back through the golfing archives focuses on Walter Hagen's lack of respect for Gene Sarazen.

The Background

There wasn’t much love lost between the two, which Gene Sarazen claimed stemmed from a lack of respect given him by his elder.

By 1922, then 30-year-old Walter Hagen was the stylish king of the course and already had four majors to his name. He was the reigning Open champion, but inexplicably didn’t take part in the PGA Championship.

It was alleged this was so he didn’t have to go head-to-head with the Sarazan, 10 years his junior and winner of the 1922 US Open.

The Scene

Even the legends of golf were once young upstarts. As Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler lead the new generation of players reshaping the golfing landscape, the old guard of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson must one day accept their time is coming to a close.

Hopefully they’ll do it with a bit of grace, but history tells us that isn’t always the case. Take the rivalry of the 1920s that emerged between the established veteran Hagen and the challenger to his throne, Sarazen, pictured above when in Britain for the 1929 Open, played in early May at Muirfield.

The Moment

A collision between the two was inevitable, and later that year they met in a challenge match.

During the game, Hagen, famed for his gamesmanship, got under Sarazen’s skin. He said: “I didn’t like the way he kept calling me ‘kid’. I was a champion and I wanted Hagen to treat me as a champion.”

Sarazen won 3&2, making a robust statement that ‘the kid’ had arrived. He would become the first golfer to complete the career Grand Slam. A feat Hagen never achieved.

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