You probably don't know the name Billy Joe Patton. He didn't make The Devil Ball 100 list of the most important golfers of all time; shoot, he probably wouldn't make the top 500. But he was a significant figure in the game, and in many ways was much closer to us than almost anyone on that list will ever be.
Patton died on New Year's Day at age 88, and although he hadn't played competitively in years, he's nonetheless fondly remembered by a wide swath of the golfing public. He was a lifelong amateur, but played well enough to earn his way onto five Walker Cup teams in the middle of the 20th century.
While he won numerous amateur championships, his best-known tournament is probably the one he didn't win: the playoff he just missed playing in at a little club in a backwater Georgia town.
The year was 1954, and Sam Snead and Ben Hogan had battled to a draw in Augusta. Patton was on pace to join them in a playoff thanks to a hole-in-one on the sixth. But on the 13th, like Phil MickelsonRead More »from Billy Joe Patton, amateur who nearly won Masters, passes away