Sports Outside the Beltway

Former US Open Golf Champ Tommy Bolt dead at 92

Bolt was best remembered for his temper and tendency to throw golf clubs. The AP article below reports this thoroughly. What the wire service fails to report, is Bolt’s impact on present day golf. Namely the Senior or Champions Tour. The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event in 1979 probably launched the Champions tour. The event in only its second year of existence, put on a show of golf that has hardly been matched since. A playoff between two teams, Bolt and Art Wall versus Julius Boros and Roberto DeVicenzo that lasted six holes before Boros and DeVicenzo came out on . The playoff that saw great shot after great shot till the very end and the high ratings it received and excitement this caused led then PGA Commissioner Deane Beman to begin forming a tour for Senior players. All Champions Tour members today owe a debt to Bolt, Boros, DeVicenzo and Wall. It’s disgraceful but predictable that AP forgot that tour’s greatest moment. When former US Open champ Orville Moody died recently, AP also forgot to note ‘Sarge’ was a former PGA Player of the Year.RIP Tommy.

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, Ark. (AP) — Tommy Bolt, the 1958 U.S. Open champion who had one of golf’s sweetest swings and most explosive tempers, has died. He was 92.

His wife, Mary Lou Bolt, said he died Saturday after “his liver shut down.”

“He was the best man I ever knew,” she said Wednesday.

Bolt won 15 Professional Golfers Association events and several more titles on the seniors tour. Yet his temper gained him the most notoriety.

Nicknamed “Terrible Tempered Tommy” and “Thunder,” Bolt was often fined and suspended by the PGA Tour for slamming clubs and using abusive language. He set up a special fund from his winnings to pay the fines.

“I’ve busted a few clubs in my time,” Bolt recalled after retiring from the Tour. “I think it’s all right for a man to break his golf clubs, every one in the bag if he wants to. They’re his clubs. He’s the one to suffer.

“As for throwing clubs, that’s something else. That could be dangerous.”

Bolt joined the tour in 1950 and won his first title, the North and South Open, the next year. Bolt won at least one tournament through 1955, a year he won four times.

In 1958, he won the U.S. Open by four strokes over 22-year-old Gary Player. He also won the Colonial Open that year. His last PGA win came at the Pensacola Open in 1961.

Bolt enjoyed success in the seniors ranks. He won the U.S. National Seniors Open five times, the PGA Seniors, and the 1978 Australian Seniors.

“I’m converted,” he said about his calm demeanor on the course. “I’m sweet as pie now.”

Bolt served overseas with the Army during World War II. Survivors include a son, Thomas Walker Bolt.

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