Phil Mickelson made golf history in May when, less than a month short of his 51st birthday, he won the PGA Championship, making him the oldest ever to win one of the sport’s four major tournaments.
In fact, only five men have ever won any PGA Tour event while older than Mickelson’s 50 years, 11 months and 7 days.
One of those men was Honesdale’s Art Wall Jr., who called Pocono Manor Golf Resort his home course for much of his career.
Wall was the second-oldest winner in tour history, winning the Greater Milwaukee Open by a stroke in early July 1975. It was his 14th and final tour win, and his first in nine years.
Only Sam Snead, who posted a win in the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at 52 years, 10 months and 8 days, was older than Wall’s 51 years, 7 months and 10 days.
Davis Love III at the 2015 Wyndham Championship, James Barnes at the 1937 Long Island Open and John Barnum at the 1962 Cajun Classic Open Invitational joined Wall as the PGA Tour winners at age 51.
Fred Funk and Craig Stadler joined Mickelson as 50-year-old winners. Stadler’s win came just across the border in Endicott, N.Y. during the 2003 B.C. Open, which was played at the same time as many top tour players were away competing in the British Open.
Wall shot 17-under-par, 271 at the 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open to beat future television golf commentator Gary McCord by a stroke and claim the $26,000 first prize.
Entering the tournament, Wall had not shot a competitive round in the 60s in all of 1975. He went out and shot three straight 67s to open a three-shot lead over Gibby Gilbert and a four-shot advantage over six players.
After the third 67, Wall told the New York Times that he made some adjustments and improvements after late-night reading of instructional articles in golf magazines.
Wall closed with a 70 to hold off the hard-charging McCord, who shot weekend rounds of 65 and 67.
Wall’s best season was in 1959 when he rallied past Arnold Palmer to win the Masters on the way to Player of the Year honors, a combination of events, which perhaps lend themselves to a future visit by the Nation Nostalgia series.