|Location||Rancho Mirage, California|
|Course(s)||Thunderbird Country Club|
|Length||6,680 yards (6,110 m)|
|Tournament record score|
|Aggregate||266 Arnold Palmer (1959)|
|To par||−20 Fred Haas (1954)|
The Thunderbird Invitational was a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, played from 1952 to 1959 in Rancho Mirage, California.Held in late January at Thunderbird Country Club, the tournament's purse was a modest $15,000; it was the direct predecessor of the Desert Classic, which began in 1960. Thunderbird hosted the Ryder Cup in 1955.
Arnold Palmer, 29, was the event's final champion in 1959;he won the next year at the first edition of the "Palm Springs Desert Classic," which had a $100,000 purse and a winner's share of 12,000, his largest tour check to date.
Ken Venturi, 26, won the 1958 event and was awarded a $1,500 check and a $4,500 automobile.He backed it up with another win the following week at Phoenix.
Jimmy Demaret won the event three times; his first was a 54-hole midweek event in 1953,and the last was an 18-hole playoff on Monday in 1957 for consecutive titles.
The 1952 event was a 36 hole pro-am, played midweek. Dutch Harrison won the best-ball while Jim Ferrier and Cary Middlecoff had the best professional scores.
|Year||Winner||Score||To par||Margin of|
|1959||Arnold Palmer||266||−18||3 strokes|| Jimmy Demaret |
|1958||Ken Venturi||269||−15||4 strokes|| Jimmy Demaret |
|1957||Jimmy Demaret (3)||273||−11||Playoff|| Mike Souchak |
|1956||Jimmy Demaret (2)||269||−15||1 stroke||Cary Middlecoff||2,000|
|1955||Shelley Mayfield||270||−18||Playoff|| Fred Haas |
|1954||Fred Haas||268||−20||2 strokes|| Marty Furgol |
|1953||Jimmy Demaret||201||−15||2 strokes|| Ben Hogan |
In 1953 it was over 54 holes, midweek. In 1955 Mayfield won with a birdie on second extra hole after 18-hole playoff. Mayfield and Souchak scored 69, Haas 70. In 1957 Demaret won after an 18-hole playoff, scoring 67, Souchak scored 75 and Venturi 76.
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