THE PLAYERS 1979: Lanny Wadkins
As the deepest and best field of the year prepared for its third go-round at Sawgrass Country Club for THE PLAYERS Championship 1979, fresh on everyone’s mind was how things had played out the previous two seasons. Tough conditions, high scores, demanding test.
So, when 29-year-old Lanny Wadkins raced to scores of 67-68 to get to 9-under and into a five-stroke lead, it was understandable to wonder what was going on. The answer was simple.
“This is probably the best I’ve ever played,” Lanny Wadkins said after taming the seaside challenge.
Scary as that proposition may have sounded to his opposition, given how tough a front-runner Wadkins was, it was a beautiful thing to behold for golf fans. After all, Wadkins went about his business with a professionalism that was to be admired. He played quickly, confidently, boldly.
The best group of competitors was in his pursuit at Sawgrass, most prominently Tom Watson, then at his world-class best, and the irrepressible Lee Trevino, just three back through 54 holes.
None of it, however, spelled trouble for Wadkins. He hit some turbulence with a third-round 76, but that was owed to the accustomed March wind. In round four, conditions were again demanding, but Wadkins was at his ball-striking best, a closing 72 eclipsed only by Watson’s 71. At 5-under 283, Wadkins beat Watson by five as Trevino faded to a share of fifth with a 79.
Tidy and efficient, in Wadkins’ vintage “no nonsense” style.