Tony Manero triumphs at Baltusrol CC
By: Claudia Mazzucco – On this day, June 6, 1936, Tony Manero came out of nowhere to win the 40th United States Open at Baltusrol Country Club in Springfield, New Jersey. He shot a 67 in the Upper Course to set a course record. His total of 282 broke a 20-year-old Open record.
After three rounds, Harry Cooper, the professional at Glen Oak, had established a new record for 54 holes with 211. Manero started the final round four strokes behind the leader. He began with a birdie in the first hole and then added two other birdies at the 4th and 8th. After going out in 33, Gene Sarazen, his final round partner and fellow Italian American, said to him, “You are burning up the course Tony. This is your day if you keep up the pace.”
Manero showed admirable restraint when in the back nine a spectator asked him, “How can I cure an awful slice?” It was Sarazen who led the fan away. Manero got within a shot of Cooper with birdies at the 12th and 13th. On the 16th, he dropped a twenty foot putt for a birdie. On the 17th, he barely missed an eight foot try for another birdie. He sent one of the straightest drives of the tournament down the middle on the 18th, then hit a 2-iron to forty feet short of the cup, and took two putts to win by two strokes.
The Championship record was broken twice in thirty minutes. Cooper was the man everyone wanted to see win this Open and he was playing great golf to do it. Approaching the 14th, Cooper was told that all he had to do to win was finish “standing up.” But he would go on to bogey three of the last five holes, one because he hit a spectator and the ball bounced into a bunker. Then he made three putts on the home green. Still his total of 284 was enough to break the Open record by two. “I have not won this thing yet,” Cooper said cautiously. “There are several men out there on the course who may catch me. Better wait a while.” Cooper was fairly certain that his 284 could not be beat and wrote a cablegram to his mother (announcing his victory), which in the end he had to tear up.
The 40th United States Open had a record field of 1,278 entries. The field was of 168 places, including 34 amateurs who represented every golfing section in the United States. Sam Parks became the first defending champion in seven years to miss the qualifying cut of 151, which was also a new record for those eligible to play the last 36 holes. Manero was speechless when John Jackson, president of the USGA, presented him with the championship trophy and the $ 1,000 check that went to the winner. Cooper collected $ 750 for second place.
Born in New York City on April 4, 1904, Tony Manero grew up and caddied in the Fairview Country Club, in the Westchester area of New York County. He became a Ryder Cup player in 1937, and in total he won eight official events on the PGA Tour. At his post as professional of the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina, he developed a sound system on the basis that the design and weight of his clubs might aid his game. He secured a measure of success and just prior to the Open Manero liked his own chances so well that he wagered $10 across the board on himself at odds of 40, 20 and 10. He had been married five years to a girl whose maiden name was Maniro.
Claudia M. Mazzucco is a researcher at Golf Channel and teacher of History of Golf at the PGA of Argentina, in Buenos Aires. She is the author of Legendary Lessons (2016), El Golf de los Tiempos, A Novel (2002) and The Guide of Golf Courses in Argentina (2003). She received the PGA Award from the PGA of Argentina in 2005