Fuzzy Zoeller, born and raised in New Albany
“Fuzzy” is just one of those nicknames… not only was Zoeller’s initials “FUZ” (Frank Urban Zoeller) the nickname stuck throughout his career. Zoeller was born on this date in 1951 in New Albany, IN where he first played golf. He thrived on his New Albany High School golf team finishing as the runner-up in the 1970 state high school tournament. Zoeller ventured tot he University of Houston then joined the PGA tour in 1975.
Fuzzy Zoeller won the Masters in his 1st visit to Augusta
Zoeller won his first tour event with his success at the 1979 San Diego Open and then pulled off a shock victory at The Masters of that year. Going into the final round he found himself six strokes behind Ed Sneed who, with just three holes to play and a three shot lead, appeared to have one hand on the trophy. It was not to be, however … as Sneed bogeyed each of the last three holes to join Zoeller and Tom Watson in a play-off. All three men parred the first extra hole and Fuzzy then kept his cool to roll in a birdie putt at the second hole to secure his 1st major championship. In addition, he became only the third man to win the Masters on his debut appearance and the first since Gene Sarazen way back in 1935.
Zoeller backed up his Masters win with the 1984 US Open
In 1984 Zoeller defied odds once again by winning the US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club. Fuzzy found himself after a tough and hot US Open in a playoff with the shark, Greg Norman. With just five holes to play and a three stroke lead Zoeller appeared to have all but secured the title but a magnificent 40-foot putt at the last by Norman meant the players returned the next day. Zoeller was at his imperious best to card a 67 whilst the Australian could manage only a 75 to hand the man from New Albany that second major title.
For much of his career, Zoeller was famous for waving a white towel in mock surrender from the fairway of the 72nd hole of the 1984 U.S. Open, after Greg Norman holed that long putt on the 72nd green to tie Zoeller for the tournament lead. At the end of the 18-hole playoff the next day between Norman and Zoeller (which Zoeller won by 8 strokes), Norman waved a white towel himself, returning the joke.
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.