History Was a 4-Wood Away; Corey Pavin Won the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock after a Shot for the Ages

By Smits, Garry | The Florida Times Union, June 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

History Was a 4-Wood Away; Corey Pavin Won the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock after a Shot for the Ages


Smits, Garry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Garry Smits, The Times-Union

The 4-wood is out of the bag and on a wall in Corey Pavin's home near Dallas.

"Very safe," Pavin said of the whereabouts of the most famous fairway metal in recent golf history. "I actually just stopped using it a couple of years ago."

It was a Cleveland VAS 4-wood, in case you're wondering, the first fairway metal Cleveland made. Pavin had put it in his bag only a brief time before the 1995 U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., but it took only one shot, on one hole, at one very important tournament, for both the club and Pavin to join golf history.

Pavin used the club to hit an approach from 228 yards at Shinnecock's par-4 18th hole, sending the ball bouncing onto the green, where it came to rest only two paces from the hole. Pavin sure would have loved to have made the putt, but the safe par after a treacherous shot assured him of a two-stroke victory over Greg Norman and Pavin's first and only major championship.

"Certainly, [that's] the most dominant [memory] I have of 1995," Pavin said.

Frequently, a first major title catapults careers. It hasn't quite worked out that way for the former UCLA All-American. Pavin has won only once since that Open title, the 1996 Colonial, and after finishing 18th on the PGA Tour money list that year, he has finished higher than No. 125 only twice in seven years.

Built at a slight 5 feet 9 and never long off the tee, Pavin hasn't finished higher than 166th in greens in regulation since the season he last won, and has lost much of the short-game magic that helped him win 14 times in 13 years on Tour.

His ability to get up-and-down in the clutch during his prime, however, was almost without peer on the PGA Tour. It earned Pavin the nickname "Bulldog" from his fellow players and the media.

"There's never been a better description of Corey," said Jacksonville native Mark McCumber, a 10-time Tour winner who finished six shots behind Pavin in 1995. "He was the kind of player who was going to win at Shinnecock. Raymond Floyd was that kind of player when he won there in 1986, and it was going to take someone with a tremendous short game and determination, like Corey, to win in 1995."

The combination of missing greens and struggles with his putter (Pavin has finished as high as 19th and as low as 131st in putting over the past seven seasons) has resulted in only 10 top-10 finishes since 1997. …

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