PGA Senior Tour Founder Dead at 70
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) _ Gardner Dickinson, a founder of the Senior PGA Tour and owner of the best U.S. Ryder Cup record, died Sunday. He was 70.
Dickinson died in his sleep after a long illness at his home, said his wife Judy, a three-time president of the LPGA and a tour player. He lived in Tequesta, about 10 miles from PGA National Golf Club, where many of his colleagues were playing in the PGA Seniors’ Championship.
``He was a fierce, hard-working competitor and made up for his lack of size with his intensity and hard work,″ Jack Nicklaus said.
``He not only had a gift for playing, but a gift for teaching and getting his message across. We will all miss Gardner and send out deepest sympathy and love to his family.″
Dickinson was born in Dothan, Ala., and was a member of the NCAA Championship team at LSU in 1947. He was 5-foot-11 and weighed just 130 pounds when he turned professional in 1952, earning the nickname Slim Man.
``The things I remember about Gardner were sort of his steely-eyed approach to the game,″ Hale Irwin said after winning his third straight Seniors’ Championship. ``I think he may have taken some of (Ben) Hogan’s traits.″
Dickinson’s first tour victory came at the 1956 Miami Beach Open. Throughout the next four decades that victory remained his greatest golf thrill, according to a statement from his family.
But his last tour victory was nearly as exciting _ he defeated Nicklaus in a playoff in the 1971 Atlanta Classic.
Dickinson was a member of U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1967 and 1971 and holds the best record in Ryder Cup history at 9-1.
In 1978, Dickinson and Sam Snead teamed to win the first Legends of Golf, a made-for-television event, by one stroke over Peter Thomson and Kel Nagel. Snead birdied the last three holes.
A year later, Dickinson became one of the original members of the Senior Tour Policy Board, which formally established a tour circuit for senior players.
Dickinson is a member of the Sports Halls of Fame in Georgia, Alabama and LSU.
He is survived by five children, Gardner, 41; Randall, 40; Sherry, 38; and 8-year-old twins, Barron and Spencer.
The funeral is Wednesday.