''Slammin' Sam'' Snead could hit the ball a country mile with a swing that was the sweetest in golf.
''It was a gift, something you can't teach,'' two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange said. ''His hands looked like they were born to have a golf club in them.''
Snead, one of golf's greatest players with seven major championship, a record 81 victories on the PGA Tour and an ageless game that produced titles in six decades, died Thursday. He was 89.
''He brought so much to the game with his great swing and the most fluid motion ever to grace a golf course,'' Jack Nicklaus said.
Snead died at his Hot Springs, Va., home at 3:38 p.m., daughter-in-law Anne Snead said.
He had been suffering from a series of strokes that began just after the Masters, although he had been ill even before the tournament.
He died holding hands with his son Sam Jr. and his daughter-in-law.
''He didn't seem scared,'' Anne Snead said. ''I think he was very much at peace.''
Snead was raised during the Depression in the backwoods of western Virginia. He learned how to play in bare feet and with clubs made from tree limbs, and he was blessed with as much raw talent as anyone who played golf.
''In those days, we used to think long hitters couldn't play well,'' Byron Nelson said. ''Well, he stopped that myth.''
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