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Jim Ferree, who was instrumental in growing PGA Tour Champions, dies at 91

Jim Ferree, who won two PGA Tour Champions events and the 1958 Vancouver Open, died Tuesday. He was 91 years old.

Born June 10, 1931, in Pinebluff, North Carolina, Ferree learned the game from his father, Purvis, a long-time golf professional who also played occasionally on the PGA Tour between the 1930s and 1960s.

Ferree graduated from North Carolina and was widely regarded as one of the best tee-to-green players of his generation. Putting was often a struggle. He also wore trademark knickers and a flat hat.

He joined the PGA Tour Champions in 1981 (then known as the Senior PGA Tour). Then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman chose Ferree to be the model for the knickers-wearing player on that Tour’s logo and, thus, created a living logo. Ferree is often cited as one of the players who was instrumental in helping get PGA Tour Champions off the ground. The Champions tour named Ferree its Comeback Player of the Year in 1993 after he recovered from prostate cancer. He won twice on that circuit—at the 1986 Greater Grand Rapids Open and the 1991 Bell Atlantic Classic. He played in 407 official events and added 12 runner-up finishes in a career that concluded in 2002. Yet he still stayed active, playing every year in the Demaret Division of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, winning that division with partner Miller Barber in 2003.

While still active on PGA Tour Champions, he became the head pro at Westmoreland Country Club in Pennsylvania, and in 1991, he became the first golfer inducted into the University of North Carolina’s Hall of Fame.

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