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Former PGA Tour member Souchak dies from complications of a heart attack

Former PGA and Champions Tour member Mike Souchak died from complications of a heart attack on Thursday in Belleair. He was 81.

In the first of his 15 wins on the PGA Tour, he posted scores of 60-68-64-65 to set a tour record-low 27-under 257 in the 1955 Texas Open at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio. His 27 on the front nine on the first day included just nine putts and also established a PGA record.

Palm Harbor's John Huston shot 28-under 260 to win the 1998 Hawaiian Open, breaking the tour's 27-under mark shared by Mr. Souchak and Ben Hogan.

Mr. Souchak's four-round total of 257 stood until Mark Calcavecchia shot 256 at the Phoenix Open in 2001, and the mark was later broken when Tommy Armour posted 254 at the 2003 Valero Texas Open.

Mr. Souchak's 60 stood as an 18-hole record until Al Geiberger's 59 at the 1977 Memphis Classic. His 27 was tied by Andy North in 1975 (and Billy Mayfair in 2001 and Robert Gamez in 2004) and broken by Corey Pavin in 2006.

Mr. Souchak joined the PGA Tour in 1952 and made his first start at the 1953 San Diego Open. He posted 11 top-10 finishes in major-championship play, with a third place at the 1959 and 1960 U.S. Opens, and he played on the 1959 and 1961 Ryder Cup teams won by the United States. His last two PGA victories came in 1964 at the Houston Classic and Memphis Open Invitational.

He was co-founder in 1973 and co-owner of Golf Car Systems in Clearwater with partner Bill Dodd.

"The PGA Tour family has lost one of its true pioneers," tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Mike Souchak was in many ways the prototype of today's modern golfer. His formidable athletic skills made him long off the tee and he helped elevate the game's profile before the game was televised on a regular basis. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Nancy, and his family."

The native of Berwick, Pa., attended Duke on a football scholarship, lettering three seasons. On the golf course, he lettered four seasons (1948; 1950-52) and helped the Blue Devils to Southern Conference titles in 1948 and 1951 along with a fourth-place finish at the 1948 NCAA Championships. He was team captain in 1951 and 1952.

Mr. Souchak was inducted into the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 1984.

Former PGA Tour member Souchak dies from complications of a heart attack 07/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2008 9:22pm]
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