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History Barely Still on Souchak’s Side

The most surprised man in golf last Sunday wasn’t John Cook, who was playing so poorly three months ago he thought about quitting, then set out in search of the top 72-hole tournament score in PGA Tour history.

No, it was Mike Souchak, who was so sure his 41-year-old record was history, he didn’t even try to find out what happened.

“I’m still surprised he didn’t break it,” Souchak, 69, said last week. “No, make that shocked. He was playing so brilliantly. And, after all, that record was made 41 years ago. I thought it was just a matter of time.”

Souchak still has the record for the lowest 72-hole tournament score, 257, which he set in the 1955 Texas Open.

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Cook parred the last three holes at the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the TPC at Southwinds in Memphis to finish with a fourth-round 69 and a total of 258.

Souchak’s mark is still in the books, which is nothing short of amazing, according to the record-holder.

“With all the good players today and the advancement of golf courses and golf balls especially, it’s just really surprising the record held up,” he said.

Souchak shot rounds of 60-68-64-65 in February 1955, at Brackenridge Park South, a public course in San Antonio. Oddly enough, Souchak was in San Antonio on Sunday for a golf outing to raise money for the Special Olympics when Cook was making his run for the record.

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In his opening round, Souchak played his last 10 holes in 10 under par, his last six holes in seven-under and shot his 60 despite a bogey on the second hole. His 27 on the back nine is still the PGA Tour nine-hole record, since matched by Andy North in 1975.

A former Berwick, Pa., high school football star who played left end in Duke’s single-wing formation, Souchak is the co-owner of a golf cart preventive maintenance company in Clearwater, Fla.

He said he hardly ever keeps score any more, but he can break 80. Over the weekend, Souchak and his wife, Nancy, traveled to their summer home at Carmel Valley Ranch.

As for those four days in San Antonio more than four decades ago, they haven’t left Souchak’s mind.

“I’ll remember them to the day I go to the grave,” he said.

Souchak didn’t recall his record-setting 1955 tournament attracting much attention.

“That was 1955,” he said. “There were no big deals about golf back then.”

Souchak won $5,344.95 for the year in 1955, when he won the Texas Open and Houston Open. Cook won $243,000 for his victory Sunday at Memphis.

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History is against Tom Weiskopf, who defends his U.S. Senior Open title next week at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio. Only Miller Barber (1984-85) and Gary Player (1987-88) have won consecutive U.S. Senior Open titles.

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Gary McCord’s new golf instruction book, called “Golf for Dummies,” has a forward by Kevin Costner and an endorsement by Hootie and the Blowfish.

Funnyman Irish golfer David Feherty recently critiqued the book: “Gary McCord is to English literature what Michael Jackson is to baby-sitting.”

Golf Notes

The Fathers of St. Charles charity golf tournament will be held July 8 at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale. The event benefits the Villa Scalabrini Retirement Center and Special Care Unit. Details: (818) 768-6500. . . . The 14th Tom Flores Boy Scouts of America invitational golf tournament will be held July 15 at Riviera. NFL stars will be paired with amateurs. Details: (213) 413-4400. . . . The second Blacks In Government golf classic will be held July 18 at the Navy Course in Cypress. The event is sponsored by the El Segundo Chapter of the nonprofit organization established in El Segundo by Department of Defense employees and benefits the Young Golfers of America. Details: (310) 335-3633. . . . The official charities of the Toshiba Senior Classic held in March--the Make A Wish Foundation, the National Dyslexia Foundation and the Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis Assn.--received $15,000 checks. . . . Tim Hogarth of Van Nuys, who graduated from Allemany High and Cal State Northridge, won the 79th City Men’s Golf Championship and credited UCLA golf Coach Brad Sherfy for a putting lesson. Sherfy also is the head pro at Mulligan Golf Center in Torrance.

The LPGA has added a $600,000 tournament, the Myrtle Beach LPGA Classic, to its 1997 schedule. The event will be played April 17-20 at Wachesaw East Golf Club in Murrels Inlet, S.C. It joins another new event on the schedule, the $650,000 L.A. Women’s Championship, which will be played Feb. 13-16 at Oakmont Country Club. . . . The county Department of Parks and Recreation will hold a public meeting to discuss the county’s golf course system at 7 p.m. July 10 at the Diamond Bar golf course. Details: (818) 821-4609. . . . Ray Hanes, 85, the former head professional at the Midwick Country Club in Monterey Park and at the Victoria Club in Riverside, a past president of the U.S. National Senior Open Golf Assn., and a life member of the PGA of America, died recently at his home in Indian Wells after a long illness.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Dead Solid Perfect

Record scores in an official, 72-hole PGA Tour event:

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Score Player Rounds Tournament 257 Mike Souchak 60-68-64-65 1955 Texas Open 258 John Cook 64-62-63-69 1996 St. Jude Classic 258 Donnie Hammond 65-64-65-64 1989 Texas Open 259 Chandler Harper 70-63-63-63 1954 Texas Open 259 Tim Norris 63-64-66-66 1982 Greater Hartford Open 259 Corey Pavin 64-63-66-66 1988 Texas Open 259 David Frost 68-63-64-64 1993 Hardee’s Golf Classic

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