Bruce Crampton Australian Golfer: There are many ways to quantify the achievements of a professional golfer. There are Major victories, in which case the name of Jack Nicklaus ascends to the pinnacle. If it is professional career victories of any type, it is Sam Snead who resides at the top.
If, however, you were to pose the question in the local watering hole of which golfer never won a Major, won fewer than 20 times on the PGA Tour, yet missed fewer cuts than either Nicklaus or Snead, how many of your mates would know the name of a golfer born in Sydney in 1935 who failed to qualify for weekend play only eight times out of 479 tournaments?
We are speculating that few, if any of your drinking buddies would be able to come up with the name Bruce Crampton, yet it is true that in 479 PGA Tour starts, he missed the cut only eight times. That level of consistency borders on incomprehensible absurdity. It becomes even more so when you examine his efforts on the over-50 Champions tour and learn that he started 409 times and missed only 2 cuts. These statistics almost fall into the category of somebody making this stuff up, but they are well documented.
Crampton surpassed his 14 regular tour victories with 20 on the Champions Tour. What might have been more appreciated by Crampton, however, was that those 20 wins produced over $4.6 million in earnings, three times the $1.3 million he derived from the regular tour, with apologies to our math teachers for the slightly less than perfect arithmetic here used.
Much higher math skills were used in determining Crampton’s scoring average that saw him receiving the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average during the 1973 and 1975 seasons, 20 years after he had turned professional in 1953! Well, that second one in 1975 was 22 years after turning professional if our subtraction skills are reliable. Bruce Crampton may or may not have possessed exceptional arithmetic prowess, but it would seem that in a career beginning in 1953 and concluding somewhere around 1997, 44 years according to our handy desktop calculator, he seldom had to count beyond five. Our entirely adequate anatomical skills tell us that he could have done that on one hand.
Earlier, we made mention of the fact that Bruce Crampton had only failed to make the cut 8 times on the PGA Tour.
Remarkably, 7 of those 8 came in the Major tournaments, that justly or not, define a golfer in much the same way winning the Melbourne Cup defines a jockey or a thoroughbred. It was not as though Crampton played badly in any of the 56 appearances he made in the Masters, the U.S. Open, the P.G.A. Championship and the Open Championship. He played 19 times in the Masters, finishing as high as second in 1972, but that tournament, played on a course ill-suited to Crampton’s skills, saw him missing the cut three times. We should say only three times. Few golfers in the history of the game would feel let down by that statistic. Another U.S. Major, the U.S. Open, accounted for three more missed cuts, another case of a tournament that did not mesh with the eye of a Sydney born and raised golfer more accustomed to the links style of golf.
Somewhat surprisingly, he only participated in the British Open, or as the British insist on calling it, The Open Championship, as though no other country or state on the planet has one, five times. He missed one cut.
Yet again, he played on the weekend every one of the 15 times he took part in the PGA Championship, when it would seem that the courses would not set up well for his game. It almost seems that by bringing all this to light, we are disparaging Crampton, but in the case of any other golfer, his performance in the majors was exemplary. Sam Snead missed more cuts in Majors. Tiger Woods has missed one fewer, but he is still active. Jack Nicklaus missed 33 cuts in Majors, but we cannot fail to mention that he participated in 164, but that still equates to a higher percentage of missed cuts.
Bruce Crampton did have runner up finishes in four Majors, once in the Masters (1972) and U.S. Open (1972) and twice in the PGA (1973 and 1975). It was Nicklaus on all four occasions that hoisted the trophy. A total of 12 strokes separated Crampton and Nicklaus in those four tournaments, or roughly what we require on a good day to play two holes. Crampton also established a record for most consecutive cuts made in Major tournaments, beginning with the 1961 U.S. Open and concluding with the 1973 Masters, when he qualified to play in the final two rounds 33 times.
The only times Bruce Crampton managed to turn the tables on Jack Nicklaus, and by that we mean Crampton won and Nicklaus finished second, because it is certain that there were many more occasions, too numerous to mention, when Crampton finished ahead of The Golden Bear, was the 1970 Westchester Classic, when Crampton went to 15 under par to produce a one stroke victory, and the 1969 Hawaiian Open, when he produced a four shot margin. Beyond that, the list of significant golfers who came up short in tournaments against Crampton includes illustrious names, such as Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Lanny Wadkins, Champagne Tony Lema, Billy Casper and Lee Trevino.
A final look at Crampton’s statistics shows that in addition to his 14 wins, he produced a total of 19 runner up, 136 top-10, and 272 top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour. When he transitioned to the Senior circuit, the 20 victories were accompanied by 23 second place, 122 top-10 and 228 top-25 finishes.
Bruce Crampton also has seven other wins to his credit in the southern hemisphere, in particular the 1954 New Zealand PGA Championship in his second year as a professional, and the 1956 Australian Open. Further, he represented Australia in the World Cup five times between 1957 and 1972.
Crampton was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2001.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief examination of one of the greatest golfers Australia has ever produced. The next time one of your mates spits out the name Greg Norman when someone asks for the name of Australia’s greatest golfer, you have more than a little ammunition when your two-word reply is Bruce Crampton.