Worsham, Lew (1986)
About Worsham, Lew (1986)
No tribute video has been produced.
1917–1990. Lew Worsham grew up in Altavista, Virginia. He started the road towards a career in professional golf as a caddie at Bannockburn Golf Club, near Glen Echo, Maryland, in 1929. He became a shop boy at Kenwood Golf and Country Club in 1936. Lew turned professional in 1938 by accepting an assistant’s position to Robert Barnett at Chevy Chase Club. He moved on to Burning Tree Club in 1939 as Head Professional. While in the Navy during World War II, Lew was stationed at Bainbridge, Maryland, with Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret. After the War, he returned to Burning Tree Club in 1946 and was elected to membership in The PGA in June of that year. Lew then accepted the Assistant PGA Professional position at Congressional CC working for Wiffy Cox with the intention of succeeding on the PGA Tour. He became Head PGA Professional at Oakmont CC (Pennsylvania) in late 1947 where he remained until his retirement in 1979.
Lew won nine times on the PGA Tour, including the 1953 World Championship at Tam O’Shanter in Chicago, where he eagled the final hole to beat fellow Virginian Chandler Harper. Two more victories in 1953 ensured first place finish on the PGA Tour money list. His first PGA Tour victory took place at the Atlanta Open in 1946, the same year he won the Delaware Open. Lew won twice in 1947, taking the US Open and the Denver Open, finishing 8th on the money list. He also won the Phoenix Open (1951) and the Miami Biltmore Fourball with Ted Kroll in 1952.
Nationally, Lew played in sixteen consecutive Masters between 1947 and 1962. In 1951, he tied Lloyd Mangrum for third behind Skee Riegel and the winner, Ben Hogan. That was his best finish at Augusta. Between 1938 and 1961, Lew played in seventeen US Opens, winning the 1947 edition at St. Louis CC by besting Sam Snead on the 18th hole of their now famous playoff. He played in fifteen PGA Championships making it to the quarterfinals twice (1947 and 1955). Twelve of those appearances occurred during the match play years where he failed to make the match play field only twice. In 1947, he defeated John Morris, Clarence Doser, and Reggie Myles to make the quarterfinals where he lost to Vic Ghezzi. Then in 1955, to get to the quarterfinals, he knocked out Dick Lundahl, Ray Hill, and Johnny Palmer before losing to Tommy Bolt. Lew’s best finish in his three PGA Championships at stroke play was in 1961 when he finished 37th. In the 1947 Ryder Cup Matches, he and Ed Oliver won a Foursomes match on the first day and then Lew beat Jimmy Adams in a second day Singles match helping the U.S. to a victory of 11-1. His nickname on tour was “The Chin.”
Lew’s first local triumph, in 1938, took place in the Lancaster pro-am sponsored by Arthur Thorn where Lew and Ed Dudley tied with 68s. He led the US Open Qualifying at Manor CC in 1940 with a 72-66, establishing a new course record that only lasted until Jack Isaacs came in behind him during the afternoon with a 65. Stellar play in the 1940 PGA Qualifier at Baltimore CC-Five Farms landed Lew in his first PGA Championship. The 1941 US Open Qualifier at Columbia CC put him back in the national spotlight. He garnered the Baltimore Open Tribute from Johnny Roche in 1941 with a 68-70 at Elkridge Club. Then immediately after World War II, Lew won the Maryland Open in 1945 by three at Kenwood G&CC and then earned a spot in the U.S. Open at the Burning Tree Club qualifier in 1946.
Triumphs in the MAPGA Section Championship came to Lew three times (1942, 1946, 1947). In 1942 at the old Indian Spring CC he beat the field by eight shots. He repeated the task, following his military service, in 1946 at Woodholme CC by three, and in 1947 at Hampton CC by three over Jack Isaacs and Chandler Harper, and by four over Sam Snead. Lew is also a member of the Tri-State PGA Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. (rev. 2011)