The Coronavirus pandemic has hit a giant pause button on fans being able to watch golf on TV, and in some cases, even kept people off courses. But while we hunker down and hope for a speedy return to normalcy, we can also use this time as an opportunity to learn more about the game we love. Here’s our latest installment of “Did you know?”
To write of a tour pro shooting rounds of 123-114 would seem to be reveling in the failures of others. This is not one of those stories. Instead, it is a story of great resilience.
Mike Reasor shot those astronomical scores during the final two rounds of the 1974 Tallahassee Open. But the story goes beyond those numbers.
Reasor played the PGA Tour fairly regularly from 1969 through 1978 and for his career made 202 starts and made the cut 119 times. He posted 10 top 10s, including a T-2 at the Maumelle Open Invitational in 1971. In short, a journeyman pro, but one with some game.
In those days the exempt list only stretched to 60 players instead of today’s 125. However, unlike today where you need to finish in the top 10 to get into the following week’s event if you’re not exempt, back then, all you needed to do was make the cut and finish the tournament. Repeat: Finish the tournament.
That provision is how Reasor ended up shooting those scores.
After a second-round 71 which comfortably had him within the cut line, Reasor went horseback riding that afternoon. Reasor got thrown from the horse and separated his left shoulder and cracked some ribs. Under any normal circumstance, Reasor would have withdrawn, but as a pro struggling to make expenses, he wasn’t about to pass on the paycheck for the week and wasn’t about to forego his exemption the following week.
According to several published accounts, Reasor—who had caddied for Arnold Palmer at the 1966 U.S. Open—played the final two rounds swinging just with his right arm, using mostly a 5-iron, wedge and putter. As word spread of Reasor’s quest, spectators flocked to watch.
The display of determination was impressive, but eventually meaningless. Reasor’s injuries were such that while exempt for the following week’s Byron Nelson Classic, he simply could not tee it up in the event.
Reasor died last year, but will always be remembered for shooting the two highest scores on the PGA Tour in recent memory. Hopefully he’ll be remembered more for his grit than the numbers would indicate.