Jim Ferrier (Feb. 24, 1915 - June 13, 1986)
In this day an age, a golfer who won one major throughout a long -and sometimes considered far too long- career might not seem to be such an accomplishment, but for Jim Ferrier, what he did on and off the course can be inspirational to almost any professional golfer.
This Australian golfer began his golfing days under the guidance of his father who was a low handicap player. But first and foremost, Jim was actually a soccer player during his adolescent years. That is, until he severely broke his leg during a game. That injury left him with a limp he would endure for the rest of his life.
By the time he was sixteen, Jim was a scratch golfer and nearly won the Australian Open, coming in as the runner-up. He knew where his future lie and pursued golf with a fervent passion. But a problem for him was that the United States was where the real tournaments and spectator passion for the sport lay. It was where his best chance of success would be as a professional golfer.
In 1940, he and his wife Norma, emigrated to the United States. Being that World War II had broken out, he and Norma had to take jobs working for the defense of the nation in order to become citizens. They did so without complaint; the prime years of his golfing life slipping away from him with each passing year. During the next four years, most of the major championships in America were canceled.
Jim became an American citizen in 1944, and it wasn't until 1946 when he tied for 4th at the Master's when he showed the world what he was capable of on the golf course. He won the PGA Championship, his one and only major victory, in 1947 at the age of 32. All this while hobbling along the course with that limp.
Here's a list of his PGA tour wins:
1944 (1) Oakland Open
1947 (2) St. Paul Open, PGA Championship
1948 (1) Miami International Four-Ball (with Cary Middlecoff)
1949 (3) Grand Rapids Open, Kansas City Open, Miami International Four-Ball (with Cary Middlecoff)
1950 (3) St. Paul Open, Canadian Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Sam Snead)
1951 (5) St. Petersburg Open, Miami Beach Open, Jacksonville Open, Canadian Open, Fort Wayne Open
1952 (2) Empire State Open, Inverness Invitational Four-Ball (with Sam Snead)
1961 (1) Almaden Open Invitational
Here's a list of his Australasia Tour Wins:
1933 New South Wales Open
1934 Queensland Open
1935 New South Wales Open
1936 New South Wales Open
1937 New South Wales Open
1938 Australian Open, New South Wales Open, Queensland Open
1939 Australian Open, Queensland Open
His ultimate impact on the game:
Jim Ferrier's career began to tail off long before it should have, with him not playing in many championship events. Yet, with his win at the PGA, he had earned a lifetime exemption, which meant that he could play in any tournament for the rest of his life. He played in the PGA Championship until 1977, drawing criticism that he was taking a legitimate spot from a younger, more capable golfer.
The rules were changed as a result, limiting the PGA Championship to a ten-year exemption from his last victory, but what Jim Ferrier showed the world was that the competitive spirit doesn't fade in time, even when one's skills and strength does. He missed out on the Champions Tour by ten years and who knows just how great of an impact Jim might have had.