Bio of Golfer Mark Hayes

Mark Hayes was the first golfer to score lower than 65 in a British Open, and won a Players Championship title. Always associated with Oklahoma, Hayes played on the PGA Tour from the mid-1970s into the 1990s.

Full name: Mark Stephen Hayes

Date of birth: July 12, 1949

Place of birth: Stillwater, Oklahoma

Date and place of death: July 17, 2018, in Edmond, Oklahoma

His Biggest Wins

As an amateur:
  • 1967 Oklahoma State Amateur
  • 1971 Oklahoma State Amateur
  • 1972 Sunnehanna Amateur
Hayes had three official wins on the PGA Tour:
  • 1976 Byron Nelson Golf Classic
  • 1976 Pensacola Open
  • 1977 Tournament Players Championship
He also won the 1986 Tallahassee Open, a tour satellite event. Hayes also recorded three victories in his home state Oklahoma Open, in 1976, 1988 and 1993.

In the Majors

Henry Cotton set an Open Championship scoring record in 1934 with the tournament's first round of 65. And for more than 40 years, no score lower than that was posted in the British Open.

Until Mark Hayes shattered the record in the 1977 Open. But Hayes didn't break the record by scoring 64. He shot a 63, lowering the mark by two strokes. It was just the third round of 63 ever scored in any of the four professional majors.

Hayes went into that 1977 Open trying a new putter grip, left-hand low. The results were middling in Round 1, when Hayes had a 76. But in Round 2, after eagling the 17th hole, Hayes had a chance to shoot 62 with a last-hole par. He bogeyed No. 18, though, and "settled" for the 63.

That score moved Hayes into a tie for sixth place after 36 holes, and he finished the tournament tied for ninth place. That was one of three Top 10 finishes in a major for Hayes during his career. His best showing was tied sixth in the 1980 U.S. Open. He also tied 10th in the 1982 Masters.

Hayes' first appearance in any major was in the 1973 U.S. Open, and his last was in the 1990 U.S. Open.

More About Mark Hayes

Mark Hayes, a lifelong Oklahoman, began playing golf at age 6. Ten years later he was the state high school champion. After changing schools, Hayes' team — which also included future PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Doug Tewell — won multiple team championships.

Hayes' first big title outside of high school was the Oklahoma State Amateur, which he first won in 1967 (and won again in 1971).

He played college golf at Oklahoma State University, where he was a first-team All-America selection in 1970 and 1971.

Hayes then went into the U.S. Army for a two years. He served his time working at a military golf course and winning the U.S. Military Inter-Service Golf Championship. The Army also let him off to play in a few big amateur tournaments. That's how Hayes won the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur in 1972.

The U.S. Amateur was a stroke-play tournament at that time, and in 1972 Hayes tied Ben Crenshaw for second place behind the winner, Vinny Giles III. Hayes (along with Giles and Crenshaw) was also part of the victorious Team USA in the 1972 World Men's Amateur Team Championships (Eisenhower Trophy).

Out of the Army in 1973, Hayes entered the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament and made it through Q-School. His rookie year on the PGA Tour was 1974.

It took only two years for Hayes to earn his first victory: He won the 1976 Byron Nelson Golf Classic wire-to-wire. It was a big year for Hayes, and seemed to signal bigger things to come. He won again later in the year at the Pensacola Open, and, off the tour, won the Oklahoma Open.

Hayes had two victories, one second-place finish and nine Top 10 showings on the year. He finished 11th on the PGA Tour money list, the first of three consecutive Top 20 money finishes (19th in 1977 and 15th in 1978).

His biggest victory was in the 1977 Tournament Players Championship, known today as The Players Championship. Hayes' winning score of 1-over 289 remains tied for the highest in tournament history.

But Hayes won no more official PGA Tour events after that. In 1978 he was second three times. In 1979, Hayes had a 3-stroke lead in the final round of the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am as he stood over a 7-foot putt on the 15th green. But he four-putted, and then three-putted the following green. Hayes wound up tied with Lon Hinkle and Andy Bean, with Hinkle winning the playoff. He wound up 23rd on the money list that year.

Hayes did make another national team appearance in 1979, though. When Tom Watson withdrew from the 1979 Ryder Cup, Hayes replaced him on Team USA. Hayes went 1-2-0, losing two doubles matches on Day 2. But in Day 3 singles, Hayes defeated Antonio Garrido, 1-up.

In 1981 Hayes got into another playoff before falling to Larry Nelson in the Greater Greensboro Open. It was his last second-place finish on tour. He finished 46th on the money list that year, his last finish inside the Top 50.

By 1984, Hayes was missing more cuts than he made. He did have more wins, just not PGA Tour wins. He claimed the 1986 Tallahassee Open, but it was a "satellite tournament" that year (similar to a Korn Ferry Tour victory today). Hayes had a couple victories at the state level, too, winning the Oklahoma Open again in 1988 and 1993, the last at age 44.

Hayes made multiple trips back to Q-School and kept playing on the PGA Tour sporadically through the 1990s and into the early 2000s. His official PGA Tour statistics show 604 career starts on tour, with three victories, six seconds, five thirds, 28 Top 5 finishes and 57 Top 10 finishes.

Hayes went on to make 96 career starts on the Champions Tour from 1999 through 2004, but with only one Top 10 finish.

Hayes started working in golf course design in the 1980s and after retirement from competitive golf ran his own design company. Most of his projects were in Oklahoma or neighboring states. Hayes always played out of Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla., as did several other PGA Tour pros — collectively they were called "the Oak Tree gang." And one of Hayes' company projects was a renovation of the major-championship course at Oak Tree.

Hayes was 69 years old when he died in 2018 from complications due to early onset Alzheimer's Disease. He is a member of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame.

(Book titles are affiliate links; commissions earned)
Alliss, Peter. The Who's Who of Golf, 1983, Orbis Publishing.
Associated Press. "Hayes shoots Open record," Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review, July 8, 1977,
Brenner, Morgan. The Majors of Golf, Volume 2, 2009, McFarland and Company.
Elliott, Len, and Kelly, Barbara. Who's Who in Golf, 1976, Arlington House Publishers. "Former OSU & PGA Tour Golfer Mark Hayes Dies," July 18, 2018,
Oklahoma Golf Association. State Amateur Past Champions,
Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame. "Mark Hayes,"
PGA Tour. The Tour Book 1990, Official Media Guide of the PGA Tour, 1989. Players, Mark Hayes,
Smits, Gary. "Mark Hayes, first Players champion on the First Coast, was 'quiet star'," Florida Times-Union, July 18, 2018,
United States Golf Association. Official USGA Record Book, 1895-1990, Triumph Books, 1992.

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