1945 PGA Championship: Victory Part of Nelson's Famous Streak

Golfer Byron Nelson, pictured in a publicity still from 1944
Byron Nelson was the winner of the 1945 PGA Championship. Wikimedia Commons

Byron Nelson finished off a stretch of five appearances in the championship match within a 6-year period by winning the 1945 PGA Championship.

Quick Bits

  • Championship match: Byron Nelson over Sam Byrd (match scores below)
  • Dates: July 9-15, 1945
  • Golf course: Moraine Country Club in Ohio
  • Tournament number: This was the 27th time the PGA Championship was played.

Notes on the 1945 PGA Championship

The PGA Championship was the only one of the four professional majors played in 1945, with World War II reaching its conclusion and many golfers still involved in military activities.

Ben Hogan and Sam Snead did not play, and the 1945 PGA Championship had a smaller field than typical during non-war years.

Byron Nelson was enjoying a historic season of golf in 1945. He won 18 times total in PGA Tour events, including 11 in a row, and this tournament was one of those. Nelson beat Sam Byrd in the title match, 4 and 3.

To reach the finals, Nelson defeated Gene Sarazen, Mike Turnesa, Denny Shute and Claude Harmon; Byrd beat Augie Nordone, Johnny Revolta, Vic Ghezzi and Clarence Doser.

Nelson's foes includes two past PGA Championship winners. He beat the 43-year-old, 3-time PGA winner Sarazen 4 and 3 in a 36-hole first-round match; then vanquished 2-time PGA winner Shute 3 and 2 in a 36-hole quarterfinal match. His semifinal opponent, Harmon, was the patriarch of the Harmon family of golf instructors (one of his sons is Butch Harmon) and the 1948 Masters champ. So although the field was thinned out by war, it was still a better field than at the 1944 PGA.

Nelson's final opponent, Byrd, was a former professional baseball player and a member of the Babe Ruth-era New York Yankees. During his time with the Yankees, he was used so often as a pinch-runner for the aging Ruth that he earned the nickname "Babe Ruth's Legs."

Byrd's major-league baseball career ended after the 1936 season and he turned to golf.

He won six PGA Tour events, all from 1942-45.

His victory here was Nelson's second win in the PGA Championship, and the last of his five majors. It was also the sixth straight year in which Nelson reached the seminfinals in the PGA, and the fifth of those six years he made it to the final (he won two and lost three of those). Nelson was deep into his streak of 11 straight wins; his victory in this tournament was No. 9 in that streak.

Defending champion Bob Hamilton - who beat Nelson in the 1944 title match - lost in the first round to Jack Grout. Grout later gained much greater fame as the golf instructor to Jack Nicklaus.

1945 PGA Championship Scores

Results from the 1945 PGA Championship golf tournament played at Moraine Country Club in Dayton, Ohio (all matches scheduled for 36 holes):

First Round

  • Jack Grout def. Bob Hamilton, 5 and 4
  • Ky Laffoon def. Felix Serafin, 4 and 3
  • Clarence Doser def. Jug McSpaden, 5 and 4
  • Toney Penna def. Wayne Timberman, 2-up
  • Johnny Revolta def. Frank Kringle, 10 and 9
  • Sam Byrd def. Augie Nordone, 4 and 3
  • Herman Barron def. Harry Nettlebladt, 5 and 3
  • Vic Ghezzi def. Ed Dudley, 7 and 6
  • Byron Nelson def. Gene Sarazen, 4 and 3
  • Mike Turnesa def. John Gibson, 5 and 4
  • Denny Shute def. Barney Clark, 4 and 3
  • Bob Kepler def. George Schneiter, 2 and 1
  • Ted Johnson def. Dutch Harrison, 1-up
  • Ralph Hutchison def. Ted Huge, 6 and 5
  • Jim Turnesa def. Byron Harcke, 9 and 7
  • Claude Harmon def. Verl Stinchcomb, 2 and 1

Second Round

  • Ky Laffoon def. Jack Grout, 1-up (38 holes)
  • Clarence Doser def. Toney Penna, 1-up (37 holes)
  • Sam Byrd def. Johnny Revolta, 2 and 1
  • Vic Ghezzi def. Herman Barron, 2-up
  • Byron Nelson def. Mike Turnesa, 1-up
  • Denny Shute def. Bob Kepler, 5 and 4
  • Ralph Hutchison def. Ted Johnson, 6 and 5
  • Claude Harmon def. Jim Turnesa, 8 and 7

Quarterfinals

  • Byron Nelson def. Denny Shute, 3 and 2
  • Claude Harmon def. Ralph Hutchison, 4 and 3
  • Sam Byrd def. Vic Ghezzi, 7 and 6
  • Clarence Doser def. Ky Laffoon, 2 and 1

Semifinals

  • Byron Nelson def. Claude Harmon, 5 and 4
  • Sam Byrd def. Clarence Doser, 7 and 6

Championship Match

  • Byron Nelson def. Sam Byrd, 4 and 3

    1944 PGA Championship | 1946 PGA Championship

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