Golfer Mike Fetchick: Set 'Old' Champions Tour Record

Mike Fetchick played on the PGA Tour in the 1950s, winning several tournaments including a playoff victory in one of the biggest non-majors. Decades later, he played the Champions Tour and set an age-related tour record that stood for more than 35 years.

Full name: Michael Fetchick

Date of birth: October 13, 1992

Place of birth: Yonkers, New York

Date and place of death: March 8, 2012 in Dix Hills, New York

Nickname: The Silent Slav

Fetchick's Biggest Wins

Mike Fetchick had three wins on the PGA Tour: He also won the 1955 Imperial Valley Open, once counted as a tour win but today called an unofficial win by the PGA Tour. On the Champions Tour, Fetchick won once:
  • 1985 Hilton Head Seniors International

In the Majors

Fetchick had a best showing of tied for 13th place in the 1957 U.S. Open. His best finish in The Masters was tied 16th in 1957, and his best PGA Championship finish was tied for 23rd in 1964. Fetchick appeared in 21 majors total, first playing in the 1954 U.S. Open and last in the 1975 U.S. Open.

His One Senior Win Was Record-Setting

Mike Fetchick played in more than 300 Champions Tour tournaments, and he won exactly one of them. But it was a big win.

The tournament itself wasn't big: The 1985 Hilton Head Seniors International was a regular stop on the tour, not a senior major. But Fetchick won it on his 63rd birthday, and in so doing set a Champions Tour record that stood for more than 30 years.

At age 63 on the dot, Fetchick became the oldest winner in senior tour history, the only golfer (at that time) older than 61 to win on the Champions Tour. Fetchick had a 210 (69-69-72) total in the 54-hole event, winning by two strokes over runners-up Gene Littler, Orville Moody and Al Chandler.

Fetchick broke the age record previously held by Robert De Vicenzo, who in 1984 had won at age 61 years and 92 days. Ten years after Fetchick's 1985 win, he and De Vicenzo were still the only golfers 60 or older to win on the Champions Tour.

And Fetchick's record stood for 34 years, until Scott Hoch, at age 63 and 5 months, won the 2019 Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf as part of a 2-man team. An individual, stroke-play tournament winner older than Fetchick didn't emerge until Bernhard Langer won at age 64 in 2021, 36 years after Fetchick.

Fetchick set another record, too, in his lone Champions Tour win in 1985: longest gap between a golfer's last PGA Tour win and his first Champions Tour win. Fetchick's last PGA Tour win happened in 1956, and it took 28 years, 9 months and 27 days before he won the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors International.

More About Mike Fetchick

Fetchick came very close to winning at age 67 on the Champions Tour: He tied Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Jimmy Powell at the end of regulation in the 1990 NYNEX Commemorative tournament. Rodriguez and Powell were knocked out of the 4-way playoff when Trevino and Fetchick matched birdies on the first extra hole.

And Fetchick stayed with Trevino for four more holes. Trevino didn't beat him until making a birdie on the fifth playoff hole.

Fetchick was already in his late 50s by the time the Champions Tour was created in 1980. But from 1980 until his final appearance on the senior tour in 1998, Fetchick played in 335 Champions Tour events. He had the one win and one second-place finish, plus one third and 17 Top 10 finishes.

He finished 9th on the Champions Tour money list in 1981, his best showing, and was in the Top 20 of the money list 1981-1985. Fetchick also had two more wins on the senior circuit, but not official tour wins since they were in an older age bracket: He teamed with Bob Toski to win the Legendary Division title of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in 1990 and 1992.

Fetchick was a lifelong New Yorker, born in Yonkers, who worked at New York golf clubs over his long career as a club professional. Those included Glen Head Country Club and, for a long period, Dix Hills.

Fetchick was already 28 years old when he turned pro in 1950, and 30 years old when he first played on the PGA Tour in 1952.

And just as Fetchick won only once on the Champions Tour, but it was a win that made an impact, he was sort of a one-hit wonder in his earlier PGA Tour life. He won three times, not just once, on the PGA Tour — but all three of those wins happened in a single season.

That year was 1956. He won the St. Petersburg Open in March (beating Lionel Hebert in a playoff) and the Mayfair Inn Open in December (by two strokes over Frank Stranahan). In-between was the biggest win of his career, the Western Open.

At the 1956 Western Open, Fetchick shot 70 in the final round and tied Doug Ford, Jay Hebert and Don January at 284. They played an 18-hole playoff for the title of what was one of the biggest tournaments on tour at the time. Fetchick won it with a stellar 66 to Hebert's 71, Ford's 72 and January's 75.

Fetchick was also was runner-up in a tournament in 1956, the Texas Open, which turned out to be the only time he finished second in a PGA Tour tournament. He never won again on the PGA Tour.

One year earlier, Fetchick won the Imperial Valley Open, which many tour pros played but which, today, is not designated as an official tour win by the PGA Tour.

Another non-official-tour-win was his victory in the team pro-am the 1961 Pebble Beach Pro-Am, partnered by amateur Charlie Seaver (father of baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver).

Also off the tour, Fetchick added wins in the Long Island PGA Championship in 1963-64. And he won that tournament again nearly 20 years later, at age 59, in 1982. He also won the New York State Seniors Championship in 1977.

Fetchick last appeared in a PGA Tour tournament in 1975. In total, Fetchick played in 234 tournaments on the PGA Tour. In addition to his three wins, he was runner-up once and third-place once, with 15 total Top 10 finishes.

Fetchick was a powerfully built golfer for his era on the PGA Tour, at over 6-foot and around 200 pounds. He was known for hitting big drives, and won long-drive contests that were held prior to 1956 PGA Championship and 1958 Masters.

Fetchick is a member of the Metropolitan PGA Hall of Fame.

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