Edward Joseph Furgol was one of golf’s top inspirational stories. His left arm was almost 10 inches shorter than his right as the result of a boyhood fall from playground equipment and unsuccessful surgery. He didn’t let it keep him from becoming first a top amateur player, and later a PGA Tour player, U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup team member.
Furgol, who was urged by doctors to try golf after his injury at age 12, moved to Michigan from his native New York in 1941, worked at Ford Motor Co., and played public links golf. He won the prestigious North and South Amateur Championship in 1945 and was qualifying medalist and a semifinalist in the 1940 U.S. Public Links Championship to highlight his amateur career.
He turned professional in ’45 after winning the North and South. He won 11 professional tournaments, including six on the PGA Tour and the 1951 Michigan PGA Professional Championship. He played on the 1957 U.S. Ryder Cup Team and was the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year in 1954 with three wins, including his one-shot win over Gene Littler in the U.S. Open at Baltusrol.
“I didn’t win despite my handicap, but because of it – just as (Ben) Hogan came back from that automobile accident, and Babe Zaharias came back from a cancer operation,” he said. The U.S. Open win and his story produced celebrity status. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show with boxing champion Rocky Marciano.
From 1945 to ’52, Furgol carded more rounds on the PGA Tour than any other player. After turning 50, he played on the PGA Tour Champions from 1981 to ’85. Over his career he played in 21 U.S. Opens, 16 Masters Tournaments, 13 PGA Championships and one British Open. He died in 1997 in Miami Shores, Fla. He was 79.
Year inducted: 1988