"After five years as a circuit pro, I'd won close to thirty Opens, from San Diego to Miami, but not one national title. The papers called me a choke artist, a cheese champ, a 'mystery,' and a 'hex-haunted hillbilly.' One syndicated writer claimed I was the Shoeless Joe Jackson of the links--Jackson never quite able to edge Ty Cobb for the batting title.
A hell of a comparison that was, even though it's true that I broke into golf in bare feet and in the back country, where our plumbing was a two-holer outdoors. Jackson had just Cobb and three or four others to worry about. When I was a young pro, I had Ed Dudley, Craig Wood, Vic Ghezzi, Horton Smith, Johnny Revolta, Jimmy Thomson, Lighthorse Harry Cooper, Dick Metz, Wild Bill Mehlhorn, Paul Runyan, Lawson Little, Ky Laffoon, Henry Picard, Denny Shute, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Wiffy Cox, Ray and Lloyd Mangrum, Tony Manero, Jimmy Demaret, Jug McSpaden, and Guldhahl, among others, to crack up against--maybe the greatest field ever assembled."
Sam, of course, did break through and win his share of Majors, although he was skunked in the US Open. But when we think about competition, was it any less in Sam's day than in the time of Tiger, or today? Sam Snead teed it up against some hard men--men unlikely to flinch when battling for a title. His opponents were hungry. And, as Trevino said, "A hungry dog hunts best."
So, when you talk about great players, never forget the Slammer, who went up against perhaps the greatest fields ever assembled and became the winningest of the bunch.