Jeff Sluman didn’t lose a ball in the final round en route to winning the 70th PGA Championship, but he did lose a note from Jack Nicklaus.
The Golden Bear missed the cut at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma, but stuck around to do television for ABC Sports and jotted a congratulatory note to Sluman, who not only won his first major but his first PGA Tour title 35 years ago.
“Here’s one of my all-time heroes saying how great I did,” Sluman recalled. “Your first win, they’re pulling you in a million directions, come over here and hold the trophy, do this interview. They physically gave me a check out of a checking book for $160,000. You had to sign the back of it. That’s one of the unique things I remember. Well, in all the hubbub, I lost the note. The following week I went up to Jack and thanked him for the note and said, ‘Jack, I hate to ask you this but any chance you remember what you wrote and would jot it down again?’ Kind of a unique request. I just wanted it for my personal scrapbook. He was very kind and did.”
Sluman, a longtime Oak Hill Country Club member who estimated he’s played between 300-400 rounds at the host of the 105th PGA Championship, will be working on the broadcast team instead of playing. He was born in September of 1957 and raised in Greece – not the country but rather the town in Monroe Country and suburb of Rochester, New York. He still recalls his father taking him to a practice round for the 1968 U.S. Open at Oak Hill and parking on one of the fairways of the West Course before watching childhood favorites Al Geiberger and Roberto de Vicenzo and trail after Arnold Palmer, who his dad supported.
“I got out of the car and remember saying, ‘Dad, we’re parking on fairways that are better than the greens we play on,’ He said, ‘Son, this is what real golf is.’ We were muni players. It still actually exists; Oak Orchard CC, which was a 45-minute drive from where we lived, near Albion, New York.”
Sluman grew up playing golf at Craig Hill Country Club (now known as Deerfield) and quickly became known as one of the top junior athletes in the Rochester area. His father, George, and older brother, Brad, were also…
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