Cary Middlecoff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cary Middlecoff
Personal information
Full nameEmmett Cary Middlecoff
Born(1921-01-06)January 6, 1921
Halls, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedSeptember 1, 1998(1998-09-01) (aged 77)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Nationality United States
SpouseEdith Buck (m. 1947)
CollegeUniversity of Mississippi
University of Tennessee College of Dentistry
Turned professional1947
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins40
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour39 (Tied 10th all time)
Best results in major championships
(wins: 3)
Masters TournamentWon: 1955
PGA Championship2nd: 1955
U.S. OpenWon: 1949, 1956
The Open Championship14th: 1957
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1986 (member page)
Vardon Trophy1956

Emmett Cary Middlecoff (January 6, 1921 – September 1, 1998) was an American professional golfer on the PGA Tour from 1947 to 1961. His 39 Tour wins place him tied for tenth all-time, and he won three major championships. Middlecoff graduated as a dentist, but gave up his practice at age 26 to become a full-time Tour golfer.

Early life and education[edit]

Middlecoff was born January 6, 1921,[1] in Halls, Tennessee. He graduated from Christian Brothers High School. He played collegiate golf at the University of Mississippi, becoming that school's first golf All-American in 1939. First as an undergraduate and active member of Kappa Alpha Order, then as a dental student at the University of Tennessee, Middlecoff won the Tennessee State Amateur Championship for four straight years (1940–1943). After obtaining his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree in 1944, he entered the United States Army Dental Corps during World War II. He won a PGA Tour tournament as an amateur in 1945, and then turned professional in 1947. He was selected for the 1947 Walker Cup team but immediately withdrew as he intended turning professional.[2][3]

PGA Tour career[edit]

During his playing career, Middlecoff won 39 PGA Tour tournaments,[4] including the 1955 Masters and U.S. Open titles in 1949 and 1956. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average in 1956.

Middlecoff played on three Ryder Cup teams: 1953, 1955, and 1959 – the U.S. teams won all three times. He was ineligible for the 1957 Ryder Cup because he failed to play in the PGA Championship that year.[5] Middlecoff was disappointed to lose a playoff in the 1957 U.S. Open to Dick Mayer, and played very few events following that event. The U.S. lost the Cup in 1957, for the first time since 1933.

Middlecoff's three best seasons were 1949, 1951 and 1956, as he won six tour titles in each of those years. He won at least one tour tournament in 13 of his 15 seasons, missing only in 1957 and 1960.

During the decade of the 1950s, Middlecoff won 28 tour titles, more than any other player during that span. A tall player with plenty of power and very good accuracy, Middlecoff during his best years was also a superb putter. He was known for often taking excessive time to play his shots.

Back problems and struggles with his nerves during competition ended his career in the early 1960s, when he was in his early 40s, although he continued to play occasionally, competing in the Masters until 1971, as a past champion.

Middlecoff became a top player despite having one leg slightly shorter than the other.[6]

Movies, television and writing[edit]

Middlecoff later developed a reputation as one of the best of the early golf television commentators. After retiring from the tour, he spent 18 years as a golf analyst for television.[7] He appeared in two motion pictures as himself (Follow the Sun (1951, about the life and career of Ben Hogan) and The Bellboy (1960)). He wrote a newspaper column, "The Golf Doctor." He also appeared in a short biographical sports documentary Golf Doctor (1947).

Later life[edit]

In 1986, Middlecoff was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He died of heart disease in 1998 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was survived by his wife of 51 years, Edith.[7]

Professional wins (41)[edit]

PGA Tour wins (39)[edit]


Major championships are shown in bold.

Other wins (1)[edit]

this list may be incomplete

Major championships[edit]

Wins (3)[edit]

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner(s)-up
1949 U.S. Open 1 shot lead +2 (75-67-69-75=286) 1 stroke United States Clayton Heafner, United States Sam Snead
1955 Masters Tournament 4 shot lead −9 (72-65-72-70=279) 7 strokes United States Ben Hogan
1956 U.S. Open 1 shot lead +1 (71-70-70-70=281) 1 stroke United States Julius Boros, United States Ben Hogan

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1946 1947 1948 1949
Masters Tournament T12 LA T29 2 T23
U.S. Open CUT T21 1
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament T7 T12 11 T27 T9 1 3 CUT T6 2
U.S. Open T10 T24 T24 WD T11 T21 1 2 T27 T19
The Open Championship 14
PGA Championship QF R32 SF 2 T20 T8
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament CUT CUT T29 CUT CUT CUT WD CUT CUT WD
The Open Championship
PGA Championship T29 T11 T15
Tournament 1970 1971
Masters Tournament CUT WD
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
  Top 10
  Did not play

LA = Low amateur
CUT = missed the half-way cut
WD = withdrew
R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
"T" = tied


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 1 2 1 4 7 11 26 14
U.S. Open 2 1 0 3 4 10 18 12
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1
PGA Championship 0 1 1 3 4 8 9 9
Totals 3 4 2 10 15 30 54 36
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 12 (1948 Masters – 1953 Masters)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 3 (twice)

U.S. national team appearances[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019". United Press International. January 6, 2019. Archived from the original on September 11, 2019. Retrieved September 10, 2019. golf Hall of Fame member Cary Middlecoff in 1921
  2. ^ "Twelve Names in U.S. Walker Cup Selection". Glasgow Herald. January 13, 1947. p. 2.
  3. ^ "U.S. Walker Cup Team Change". Glasgow Herald. January 20, 1947. p. 2.
  4. ^ a b "All-Time Records - Top 50 All-Time PGA Tour Winners". PGA TOUR 2007 Guide. PGA Tour. 2006. pp. 6–12.
  5. ^ "U.S. Ryder Cup side named". The Bulletin. July 30, 1957. p. 10. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  6. ^ Sommers, Robert (1996). The U.S. Open: Golf's Ultimate Challenge (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195100495.
  7. ^ a b Litsky, Frank (September 3, 1998). "Cary Middlecoff, 77, Dentist Who Became Top Pro Golfer". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Barkow, Al (November 1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Copyright PGA Tour. Doubleday. p. 265. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.

External links[edit]