Mike Souchak, 81,Touring Pro Who Held PGA Scoring Record, Is Dead
Published: July 13, 2008
Mike Souchak, a leading pro golfer of the 1950s and early ’60s who set a PGA Tour record for lowest 72-hole score in 1955 that stood for 46 years, died Thursday in the Clearwater, Fla., area. He was 81. The cause was complications of a heart attack, the PGA Tour said.
Eddie Hausner/The New York Times
Mike Souchak in 1959.
Souchak, at 5 feet 11 inches and 215 pounds, was a long hitter with a muscular physique. In addition to having been captain of the golf team at Duke, he had been an end and a kicker on the Blue Devils’ football team.
Souchak, a native of Berwick, Pa., won 15 PGA Tour events, his last victory coming at the 1964 Memphis Open. He had 11 top-10 finishes in major championships, among them third-place finishes in the United States Open in 1959 and 1960. He played on Ryder Cup teams in 1959 and ’61.
But Souchak was best remembered for his score at the Texas Open in February 1955, which was played at Brackenridge Park, a municipal course in San Antonio. He opened with a 60, tying the tour’s previous low round, and went on to shoot a 27-under-par 257, besting the previous low score for a 72-hole event by two shots. His 65 in the final round came in muddy conditions and near-freezing temperatures. It was his first tour victory. His prize money: $2,200.
Souchak’s round of 60 stood as a record-tying mark until 1977, when Al Geiberger had a round of 59 at the Danny Thomas-Memphis Golf Classic. Souchak’s 72-hole record of 257 endured until 2001, when Mark Calcavecchia shot 256 at the Phoenix Open.
Souchak played on the Senior Tour, now called the Champions Tour, from 1980 to 1990, and he was a founder and owner of Golf Car Systems, a golf-cart maintenance company based in Clearwater.
Souchak, who lived in Belleair, Fla., is survived by his wife, Nancy; his sons Chris, Mike and Frank; a daughter, Patti Taylor; and five grandchildren, The Herald-Sun of Durham, N.C., reported.
Asked about his record, Souchak said in an interview with PGATour.com in 2007 that he was surprised that it had stood as long as it did, given the improvements in golf courses, equipment and golf balls — “especially the golf ball.”
“I just think that the players are going to keep going lower and lower,” he said.
Players today, he said, “are more athletic than we were.”
He added: “I came out of a football background; I was a little more athletic than most. There were only two or three guys at that time that played anything other than golf. The last thing in anyone’s mind was to go and lift weights or get on a bicycle. To get in shape, we ran to the bar after we played.”
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