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Dave Hill Passes


Dave Hill, a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, died Tuesday at age 74 at his home in Jackson, Mich. Hill had been suffering from emphysema for several years, according to his brother and former PGA Tour player Mike Hill.

Dave Hill was considered one of the game's top shot-makers during his heydays in the 1960s and '70s. Hill won 13 titles between n 1961-76, played in three Ryder Cups, finished second in the U.S. Open in 1970 and won the Vardon Trophy for the Tour's lowest scoring average in 1969.

Despite his impressive number of victories, it was a runner-up finish to England's Tony Jacklin at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn., that gnawed at him the most. "Having the best stroke average was the thing that gave him the most satisfaction," Mike Hill told reporter Gary Kalahar of the Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper. "His biggest disappointment was not winning the U.S. Open like he felt he should have."

Hill also was unerringly loyal to his hometown of Jackson, where he was the city's most famous athlete. "He is Jackson golf, as far as I'm concerned," Ron Beurmann, golf professional at the Country Club of Jackson told Kalahar.

"You go anywhere in my world and tell somebody you're from Jackson, and nine of 10 people will ask you, 'Isn't that where Dave and Mike Hill are from?' "

Dave Hill was also known for his outspokenness and sharp tongue, which got him into trouble on occasion. Hill's description of Hazeltine became one of the most famous quotes ever from a PGA Tour player. When asked by reporters about the course after the second round of the U.S. Open, Hill said "Hazeltine really did lack only 80 acres of corn and a few cows. They ruined a good farm when they built this course," and that architect Robert Trent Jones "had the blueprints upside down."

"What he said about Hazeltine was the absolute, honest-to-God truth," Mike Hill told Kalahar. "Players like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player sat in the locker room and laughed. They knew it was true, but because of them not wanting to be involved, they would never say it.

"He was opinionated and stubborn. If he felt he was seeing things that weren't right, he always spoke out. He used to say, if you don't like the answer, you shouldn't ask the question."

Hill once received a $500 fine the PGA Tour for some disparaging remarks. A financial supporter of his, Al Glick, president of Alro Steel in Jackson, wrote a check for twice that amount.

"The commissioner said the check was too much," Glick told Kalahar, "and Dave said, 'That's OK, I'm getting ready to say something else.' "

In his aptly titled 1977 book, "Teed Off," Hill did just that in detailing his disagreements with the PGA Tour and creating yet more angst among Tour officials by proclaiming, "I firmly believe there is prejudice in applying the rules . . . and fining people," he wrote. "The rules aren't the same for Dave Hill or Ray Floyd as they are for Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer."

A longtime friend, Andy Andrews said he was informed by Jay Haas that Dave Hill was one of the tour's top 10 shot-makers of all time. "I don't think people realize how good he was. He hit some awfully incredible shots," Andrews told Kalahar (for Kalahar's full story, visit http://www.mlive.com/sports/jackson/index.ssf/2011/09/jacksons_pga_tour_star_dave_hi.html).

In 1987, Dave Hill joined the Champions Tour, where he won six times. He also had a cameo appearance in the movie, "Now You See Him, Now You Don't."

Hill is survived by a son, David, and a daughter, Laura. Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at Clark Lake Golf Course.

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