Thunderbird Invitational

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Thunderbird Invitational
Tournament information
Location Rancho Mirage,
California, U.S.
Established1952, 1954 (72-hole)
Course(s) Thunderbird Country Club
Par71
Length6,680 yards (6,108 m) [1]
Tour(s) PGA Tour
Format Stroke play - 72 holes
Prize fund $15,000
Month playedJanuary
Final year1959
Final champion
Flag of the United States.svg Arnold Palmer
Location Map
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Map symbol golf course 02.png
Rancho Mirage
Location in United States
Relief map of California.png
Map symbol golf course 02.png
Rancho Mirage
Location in California

The Thunderbird Invitational was a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, played from 1952 to 1959 in Rancho Mirage, California. [2] [3] [4] 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. [5] [6]

Contents

Arnold Palmer, 29, was the event's final champion in 1959; [1] [4] 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. [7]

Ken Venturi, 26, won the 1958 event and was awarded a $1,500 check and a $4,500 automobile. [8] He backed it up with another win the following week at Phoenix. [9]

Jimmy Demaret won the event three times; his first was a 54-hole midweek event in 1953, [10] [11] and the last was an 18-hole playoff on Monday in 1957 for consecutive titles. [12] [13]

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. [14] [15]

Winners

YearPlayerCountryScoreTo parMargin
of victory
Runner(s)-upWinner's
share ($)
Ref
1959 Arnold Palmer Flag of the United States.svg  United States 266−183 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Demaret
Flag of the United States.svg Ken Venturi
1,500 [1] [4]
1958 Ken Venturi Flag of the United States.svg  United States 269−154 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Demaret
Flag of the United States.svg Gene Littler
1,500 [8]
1957 Jimmy Demaret Flag of the United States.svg  United States 273−11Playoff Flag of the United States.svg Mike Souchak
Flag of the United States.svg Ken Venturi
2,000 [12] [13]
1956 Jimmy Demaret Flag of the United States.svg  United States 269−151 stroke Flag of the United States.svg Cary Middlecoff 2,000 [16]
1955 Shelley Mayfield Flag of the United States.svg  United States 270−18Playoff Flag of the United States.svg Fred Haas
Flag of the United States.svg Mike Souchak
2,000 [17]
1954 Fred Haas Flag of the United States.svg  United States 268−202 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Marty Furgol
Flag of the United States.svg Chandler Harper
Flag of the United States.svg Bo Wininger
2,000 [3]
1953 Jimmy Demaret Flag of the United States.svg  United States 201−152 strokes Flag of the United States.svg Ben Hogan
Flag of the United States.svg Lloyd Mangrum
Flag of the United States.svg Jim Turnesa
1,500 [10] [11]

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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References

  1. 1 2 3 "Palmer wins Thunderbird on 62 for 266". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. January 26, 1959. p. 3, part 4.
  2. Spicer, Judd (December 28, 2010). "Before the Hope". Palm Springs Life. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  3. 1 2 "Fred Haas wins". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). United Press. February 1, 1954. p. 2B.
  4. 1 2 3 "Palmer victor in Thunderbird". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 26, 1959. p. 2B.
  5. "Ryder Cup kept by U.S.; Briton tops Middlecoff". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 7, 1955. p. 10.
  6. "U.S. retains Ryder Cup golf trophy by 8-4". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. November 7, 1955. p. 26.
  7. "Palmer wins title". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. February 8, 1960. p. 3B.
  8. 1 2 "Ken Venturi 'Bird winner". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 27, 1958. p. 3B.
  9. "Venturi, finishes strong, takes Phoenix golf crown". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. February 3, 1958. p. 2B.
  10. 1 2 "Demaret wins at Thunderbird". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). United Press. January 22, 1953. p. 2B.
  11. 1 2 "Prize goes to Demaret". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). Associated Press. January 22, 1953. p. 8.
  12. 1 2 "Souchak holes 40-foot putt for Thunderbird triple tie". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 28, 1957. p. 10.
  13. 1 2 "Demaret wins golf playoff". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 29, 1957. p. 3B.
  14. "Ferrier leading at Palm Springs". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). Associated Press. January 22, 1952. p. 8.
  15. "Harrison takes top money in California golf". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. January 23, 1952. p. 3, sec. 3.
  16. "Thunderbird tourney won by Demaret". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 30, 1956. p. 3B.
  17. "Mayfield wins golf playoff on extra hole". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. February 1, 1955. p. 2, sec. 3.

Coordinates: 33°45′22″N116°25′48″W / 33.756°N 116.43°W / 33.756; -116.43