Fuzzy Zoeller (1951 - )
Born Indiana, USA, Zoeller has endeared himself to the public for putting the sport and fun back into professional golf.
Zoeller grew up close to a golf course and started to play from an early age. After some success as an amateur, he turned professional in 1975. His first year was poor and he barely covered his expenses. Realising the immaturity of his game, he spent countless hours practising and the following year moved up about 80 places in the rankings and reaped the associated financial rewards. Progress was still slow and it took him 4 years before he won his first tournament, the San Diego Open.
Like Lee Trevino, Zoeller is famous for his rapport with the gallery. He is an extrovert and finds that light-hearted moments with the gallery breaks the tension and utter seriousness that is so characteristic of the professional game. His critics suggest that he does not take the game seriously enough and does not have the determination and focus required to win tournaments.
Zoeller can answer his critics with his tow victories in the Majors. He won the US Masters in 1979 on his first outing. He was runner up in the 1981 US PGA Championship but won the 1984 US Open. He was also been a member of three Ryder Cup squads. In fact, Zoeller has been as successful as his contemporaries.
He has been plagued by back problems throughout his career. He was hospitalised in 1984 and underwent surgery. Although there was some speculation that this was the end of his career, he successfully recovered and returned to the tour. He was awarded the Bobby Jones Award in 1985 for outstanding sportsmanship. His recovery from illness earned him the 1986 Ben Hogan award.
Zoeller is certainly an outstanding personality which sometimes overshadows his talents as a golfer. His outlook on the professional game demonstrates that there is another way to be successful - by enjoying what you do !