1961 PGA Championship: Barber Cleans Up

The 1961 PGA Championship was the 43rd edition of this major, staged by the PGA of America, and a Barber won it. Jerry Barber, that is, who at age 45, became the oldest major winner to this point.

Winner: Jerry Barber, 277

Where it was played: Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois

Tournament dates: July 27-31, 1961

Leader after first round: Art Wall, 67

Leader after second round: Jerry Barber, 136

Leader after third round: Don January, 205

What Happened at the 1961 PGA Championship

Jerry Barber made putts of 20, 40 and 60 feet over the final three holes of regulation to tie Don January — who had led by four strokes with three holes to play — and force a playoff. In the 18-hole playoff, Barber, age 45, beat the young January by one stroke, 67 to 68.

Known as one of the better putters of his day, Barber proved it over that closing stretch of the final round. Barber and January had traded the lead in the tournament, Barber leading after the second round and January after the third. But January held a 4-stroke edge over Barber with three holes to play.

January stumbled a bit down the stretch, though, and Barber took advantage by sinking 120 feet worth of putts over those three remaining holes. Barber made a 20-footer for birdie on the 16th, a 40-footer for par on the 17th, then a monster 60-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

And that display of putting sent Barber and January into an 18-hole playoff the following day, the first playoff of the PGA Championship's stroke-play era. In the playoff, January twice held 2-stroke leads. But once again Barber rallied, and he wound up beating January to win the trophy by one shot, 67 to 68, when January made bogey on the final hole.

Barber was 45 years, 3 months and 6 days old at the time of his win, which made him the oldest winner of a PGA Championship (a record later broken). He also set a record (later broken) as oldest winner of a major in the post-1900 history of the game.

January later took part in the second playoff of the PGA's stroke-play era, beating Don Massengale to win the 1967 PGA Championship. Gary Player played the PGA Championship for the first time this year, and finished tied for 29th.

1961 PGA Championship Final Scores

Jerry Barber 69-67-71-70—277
Don January 72-66-67-72—277
Doug Sanders 70-68-74-68—280
Ted Kroll 72-68-70-71—281
Wes Ellis Jr. 71-71-68-72—282
Doug Ford 69-73-74-66—282
Gene Littler 71-70-72-69—282
Arnold Palmer 73-72-69-68—282
Johnny Pott 71-73-67-71—282
Art Wall 67-72-73-70—282
Paul Harney 70-73-69-71—283
Cary Middlecoff 74-69-71-69—283
Jay Hebert 68-72-72-72—284
Walter Burkemo 71-71-73-70—285
Billy Casper 74-72-69-71—286
Bob Goalby 73-72-68-73—286
Ernie Vossler 68-72-71-75—286
Don Whitt 76-72-70-68—286
Gardner Dickinson 71-71-71-74—287
Jack Fleck 70-74-73-70—287
Bob Rosburg 70-71-73-73—287
George Bayer 73-71-72-72—288
Don Fairfield 70-71-74-73—288
Fred Hawkins 75-73-71-69—288
Dave Marr 72-74-73-69—288
Shelley Mayfield 70-74-72-72—288
Billy Maxwell 71-72-73-73—289
Sam Snead 72-71-71-75—289
Charles Bassler 73-73-72-72—290
Bob Keller 72-73-72-73—290
Al Mengert 72-74-72-72—290
Gary Player 72-74-71-73—290
Billy Farrell 75-72-72-72—291
Jon Gustin 75-72-75-69—291
Mac Hunter 74-71-73-73—291
Dave Ragan 73-72-73-73—291
Clarence Doser 71-75-73-73—292
Mason Rudolph 71-71-73-77—292
Ken Venturi 72-72-77-71—292
Lew Worsham 75-73-73-71—292
Manuel De La Torre 72-72-76-73—293
Dow Finsterwald 74-74-71-74—293
Bud Holscher 77-68-75-74—294
Jack McGowan 76-70-77-71—294
Buster Cupit 70-78-72-75—295
Jim Ferrier 73-73-77-72—295
Marty Furgol 71-74-72-78—295
Milon Marusic 75-73-74-73—295
Mike Souchak 72-72-74-77—295
Fred Haas Jr. 72-76-75-73—296
Charles Malchaski 72-73-77-74—296
Jack Burke Jr. 76-71-72-78—297
Chick Harbert 73-75-73-76—297
Tom Nieporte 75-72-75-75—297
Sam Bernardi 75-72-75-76—298
Pete Cooper 74-74-75-75—298
Johnny Bulla 74-73-77-76—300
Mike Krak 71-76-77-76—300
Sam Penecale 72-73-79-76—300
Bill Heinlein 69-77-79-76—301
Marshall Springer 74-71-77-80—302
J.L. McReynolds 73-74-79-78—304
Al Besselink 74-73-83-75—305
Leon Butler 75-72-77-84—308

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