3/29/1987: Sandy Lyle won the 1987 Players Championship in a playoff

1987 Players

1987 Players Championship: Lyle, Sluman, and the unfortunate swimmer

On this day, In 1987 Sandy Lyle defeated Jeff Sluman with a par on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff at the 1987 Player Championship. On the second hole of the ensuing playoff — the infamous 17th with its island green — Sluman was a stroke away from victory when an unidentified man “cannonballed” into the water…

Lyle had hit left and 35 feet from the cup on the 135-yard hole, and Sluman had used a 9-iron to put his ball 5 feet from the cup. After Lyle putted to 3 feet, Sluman stood over his ball and was ready to puttwhen the spectator jumped into the lake.  The resulting commotion ended in a minute with the soaked man being escorted off by security guards and PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman threatening to prosecute. Sluman then resumed his putting stance and missed, the ball hanging on the right side of the cup.

”I’m sure it unsettled him,” said Lyle, who tied the hole with a par- saving putt.

”It sure didn’t help me,” said Sluman, who was seeking his first victory in five years. ”I was amazed someone would do that, jump into the lake.”

On the third extra hole — the 440-yard 18th — both players hit second shots to the back fringe. Lyle chipped long, Sluman short. Sluman missed his 12-foot putt to save par, and Lyle sank a 10-footer to win the title, $180,000 and a 10-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

Watch >>> Sandy Lyle winning putt at the 1987 Players

Jerry Pate goes for a swim in 1982

This shadows a rather jubilant memory just five years earlier involving Jerry Pate. After Pate won the 1982 Players he threw Pete Dye, PGA Commissioner Deane Beman into the water near the green before diving in himself. It’s safe to say in 1987 the mood was opposite, and the spectator who too an unfortunate timed swim, costed Sluman the tournament.  Sluman would have the highlight of his career the next season by winning the 1988 PGA Championship over Paul Azinger.

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