A PGA Tour winner who made a stir for his outfit choice one day at a U.S. Open has passed.
Per Golf Digest, Forrest Fezler died Friday at the age of 69. His son, Jordan, tweeted on Sunday that his father had been battling brain cancer.
The elder Fezler played on the PGA Tour from 1972-1983 and managed to win the 1974 Southern Open for his sole PGA Tour title. He finished second at the 1974 U.S. Open as well. After his playing career, Fezler got into course design and construction. He worked alongside the late renowned course architect Mike Strantz on several projects.
But Fezler would be most known for something that happened at Oakmont.
Fezler was competing in the 1983 U.S. Open at the storied course. Out of contention in the final round, Fezler went to a port-o-john after putting out on 17 and changed into shorts.
Technically, the U.S. Golf Association didn’t have a rule expressly banning shorts at that time. Fezler was still upset about an incident at the U.S. Open two years prior where he and playing competitor John Schroeder were assessed slow-play penalties that were ultimately rescinded.
Fezler knew 1983 would be his last U.S. Open and wanted to make a statement without getting in trouble. With some help from a photographer, Fezler got it confirmed by the USGA that wearing shorts wasn’t against the rules. So he took action that Sunday as a form of protest about the ’81 incident, with a photo snapped of his emergence into shorts.
The act became newsworthy and is still remembered all these years later, especially with the debate about shorts in professional golf still ongoing.
Unfortunately, Fezler is no longer here to take part in that debate. But that act made waves and will help ensure he is long remembered.