Philadelphia Inquirer Open: 1940s PGA Tour Golf Tournament

The Philadelphia Inquirer Open was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour that launched during wartime. It ended after only six years, but produced a series of notable champions.

First played: 1944

Last played: 1949

In 1944, while many PGA Tour golfers were in the military serving during World War II, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper put on a golf tournament. And the first champion was a former baseball player, Sam Byrd. Byrd had once been a backup outfielder with the New York Yankees who was used so often as a pinch-runner for Babe Ruth that he got the nickname, "Babe Ruth's Legs." But Byrd won that inaugural Philadelphia Inquirer Open by seven strokes, the tournament record for margin of victory.

The most notable tournament was in 1945, when Byron Nelson claimed this event as one of his record 18 PGA Tour wins that year. His score of 269 also remained the tournament scoring record. It was the seventh victory in Nelson's record streak of 11 consecutive wins. The runner-up was Jug McSpaden, one of a record-setting 13 times he finished second in 1945. Seven of those seconds were behind Nelson.

Nobody won this tournament more than once, but Johnny Palmer (no relation to Arnold) did win in 1948 and then finished runner-up in the final tournament in 1949. The winner that year was Joe Kirkwood Jr., whose father, Joe Kirkwood Sr., was the first Australian winner on the PGA Tour. Kirkwood Jr. became better-known as an actor portraying the fictional boxer Joe Palooka in a series of films in the 1940s and 1950s, and television series in the 1950s.

Also known as: In its first year, the tournament name was Philadelphia Inquirer Open Invitational. The "Invitational" was dropped for the remaining events.

Winners of the Philadelphia Inquirer Open

1944 — Sam Byrd, 274
1945 — Byron Nelson, 269
1946 — Herman Barron, 277 (defeated Lew Worsham in playoff)
1947 — Bobby Locke, 277
1948 — Johnny Palmer, 281
1949 — Joe Kirkwood Jr., 276

Golf courses: The first year, the tournament took place at Torresdale-Frankford Country Club just outside Philadelphia. It was played every year in the Greater Philadelphia area, in 1945-46 at Llanerch Country Club. Then it moved to Cedarbrook Country Club for one year, before finishing its final two years at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club.

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