Jay Hebert: PGA Championship Winner, Ryder Cup Captain

golfer Jay Hebert pictured on the cover of Golf Digest
Jay Hebert had a short period of PGA Tour success, but it was productive: From 1957-61, he won seven tournaments, including a PGA Championship. His brother was also on tour at that time, and the Heberts were one of the most-successful brother duos in PGA Tour history. Jay played in two Ryder Cups and also served as a captain of Team USA.

Full name: Junius Joseph Hebert

Date of birth: February 14, 1923

Place of birth: St. Martinville, Louisiana

Date and place of death: May 25, 1997, in Houston, Texas

Nickname: Jay

Hebert's PGA Tour Wins

  • 1957 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship
  • 1957 Texas Open
  • 1957 Lafayette Open Invitational
  • 1959 Orange County Open Invitational
  • 1960 PGA Championship
  • 1961 Houston Classic
  • 1961 American Golf Classic

His PGA Championship Win, Other Major Championship Bests

Jay Hebert's one victory in a major championship happened at the 1960 PGA Championship. There were only 13 sub-par rounds for the entire tournament, and Hebert's 67 in the second round was one of those (and tied for the tournament low).

Hebert was the leader by one stroke following that second round. A 72 in the third round dropped him into a tie for second place, with Sam Snead and Jim Ferrier, one behind leader Doug Sanders.

Only one golfer broke par in the final around, and after Hebert double-bogeyed the 10th hole it appeared he wouldn't get close to par. But he steadied himself and, in the end — after birdying two of the final four holes — turned in an even-par 70.

Sanders had a final-round 73, Ferrier a 71 and Snead a 72. Add it all up, and that's a one-stroke victory for Hebert and the PGA Championship trophy. (Hebert's brother Lionel, the 1957 PGA Championship winner, tied for 18th place.)

Jay Hebert first played in a major in the 1953 U.S. Open, where he posted his first Top 10 finish, a tie for ninth. He last played at a major at the 1977 PGA Championship. Hebert had 10 Top 10 finishes in majors total, including solo seventh in the 1957 PGA won by his brother, and tied fifth in the 1958 PGA Championship. He had four Top 10s in the The Masters with a best of tied eighth in 1959. A tie for seventh in the 1958 U.S. Open was his best effort in that major. Hebert never played the British Open.

More About Jay Hebert

When Jay Hebert took the PGA Championship trophy home to show his mother after winning the Wanamaker Trophy in 1960, his mother took it her hands, placed it on the mantle, and, speaking French (the Heberts were Louisiana Cajuns), said to the trophy, "I bet you didn't think that you would be back here again."

That was the second time one of sons had brought the PGA Championship trophy home. Jay's younger brother, Lionel Hebert, won the 1957 PGA Championship. They Hebert boys were the leading brother duo on the PGA Tour in the 1950s and 1960s, combining for 12 wins (seven by Jay) and two majors. When Jay won his PGA title in 1960, the Heberts became just the third pair of brothers (after Willie Park Sr. and Mungo Park, British Open winners; and Willie Smith and Alex Smith, U.S. Open winners) to both win majors.

Jay Hebert grew up playing golf at the Lafayette, La., municipal golf course. His golf development was put on hold, though, when he volunteered for the Marines and became a decorated World War II soldier. Hebert took part in Marine assaults on many Pacific islands, and was shot in the thigh and foot in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The injuries required a year of convalescence.

After the war and his recovery, Hebert enrolled at Louisiana State University and joined the golf team. Along with teammate and future PGA Tour winner Gardner Dickinson, Hebert helped lead LSU to the national team championship in 1947. In 1948, LSU was runner-up.

Hebert went to work for an oil company, which limited his golf to weekends. But after an outstanding performance in the 1949 Houston Invitational, Hebert caught the eye of PGA Tour winner and local pro Jack Burke Jr. Burke became a mentor and lifelong friend, and helped land Hebert a job as an assistant pro to Lew Worsham at Oakmont Country Club.

Hebert spent several years as a club pro, rarely competing on tour. But in 1953 he entered 15 PGA Tour tournaments, made the cut in 14 of them, and had Top 25 finishes in nearly half.

In 1955, Hebert entered 17 tour events and was in the Top 25 in 16 of them. He recorded his first runner-up finish, placing second to Cary Middlecoff in the St. Petersburg Open. That convinced him to go on tour full-time, and he played 32 tournaments in 1956. For the period from 1956-65, Hebert played no fewer than 25 tour events, with a high of 36 PGA Tour starts in 1959.

He came close to his first win at the prestigious Western Open in 1956, getting into a four-way, 18-hole playoff against Doug Ford, Don January and Mike Fetchick. Hebert finished second in the playoff to Fetchick.

But he didn't have to wait long for that first win: It happened a year later, in another prestigious tournament, the 1957 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (Pebble Beach National Pro-Am). Hebert finished two in front of Middlecoff.

He won again in 1957 at the Texas Open, won once each in 1958, 1959 and 1960, and twice in 1961. Those wins included his hometown Lafayette Open Invitational in 1958 (Lionel Hebert also won it a couple years later).

His last two PGA Tour wins were both via playoff against future Hall of Famers. At the 1961 Houston Open, Hebert defeated Ken Venturi in a playoff. At the 1961 American Golf Classic, he beat Gary Player in a playoff.

By the mid-1960s, Hebert started to cut back on his tour starts. After playing 16 times in 1969, he did not make another tour start for five years, and made only three starts total after that.

His best finish on the money list was fifth in 1960 and 1961. In 1960 he had the one victory plus four second-place finishes: to Jerry Barber in the Tournament of Champions, Arnold Palmer in the Baton Rouge Open, Dow Finsterwald in the Los Angeles Open, and Art Wall in the Canadian Open.

Hebert finished second more than twice as often as he won on the PGA Tour. He had the seven wins, but another 16 runner-up finishes. He was second four times in 1958, when he finished eighth on the money list; and another four times in 1959, when he was ninth on the money list. Hebert's last second-place finish was in the 1965 PGA National Four-ball Championship, partnered by his brother. Another of his seconds was in the 1959 El Paso Open, where Hebert joined a small club: golfers who made two aces in the same PGA Tour tournament.

The official PGA Tour stats credit Hebert with 425 starts on tour. He also finished third five times and had 110 Top 10 finishes. Hebert played his first tour event in 1949 and last in 1978.

Hebert was twice a member of Team USA in the Ryder Cup, and later served as the team captain. His overall record as a player was 2-1-1, but he wasn't able to win either of his singles matches. In the 1959 Ryder Cup, Hebert halved his singles match with Peter Alliss. In the 1961 Ryder Cup, Hebert lost in singles to Dai Rees, 2 and 1. Ten years later, Hebert was the captain of Team USA in the 1971 Ryder Cup. The Americans won all three Ryder Cups in which Hebert participated.

Hebert also took part in tour administration (as did his brother), serving as chairman of the PGA Tournament Committee in 1957-58 and again in 1963-64.

After retiring from the PGA Tour life following the 1969 season, Hebert moved to Houston. He lived near his old mentor Jack Burke Jr.'s Champions Golf Club and worked for many years as an instructor. He was 74 years old when he died in 1997.

Today Hebert is a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. And the municipal golf in Lafayette, La., when Hebert first learned the game is named the Jay and Lionel Hebert Municipal Golf Course.

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