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Dow Finsterwald, Golfer Known for Some Close Calls, Dies at 93


Dow Henry Finsterwald was born on Sept. 6, 1929, in Athens, Ohio.

When he was 14, his father, Russell, a former head football and basketball coach at Ohio University in Athens, got him a summer job on the Athens Country Club. He bought a set of clubs, went on to play for the Ohio University golf team, played on the PGA Tour as an amateur, and turned pro in November 1951.

Finsterwald was the runner-up within the 1957 P.G.A. Championship, when he was upset in the ultimate by Lionel Hebert. It was the thirty ninth and last time the event used the match play format.

He had won only 4 tour events going into the 1958 P.G.A. Championship, which was held at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa.

Entering the fourth round, Finsterwald was two strokes behind the leader, Sam Snead, and one behind Billy Casper. He shot a 31 on the primary nine on Sunday, finished with a 67 and won by two shots over Casper.

Two years later, Finsterwald endured a shattering experience on the Masters.

When he set the ball down for a practice putt after holing out on a second-round green, Casper, his playing partner, warned him that this was prohibited by the course rules, which were printed on the back of the scorecards.

Finsterwald, unaware of the prohibition, told Casper that he had in actual fact taken a practice putt on a green after holing out in the primary round.

He then reported his transgression to the officials, who retroactively assessed a two-shot penalty for his first-round practice putt. But they didn’t invoke the same old automatic disqualification of a golfer who turns in an incorrect scorecard, which Finsterwald had done for the primary round, in view of the delay in imposing the penalty.

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