It took 91 holes to determine a winner at the 2008 US Open and the medal awarded to arguably the most impressive and admirable second-place finish in golf history is set to sell at Golden Age this weekend.
Just how impressive was Rocco Mediate's performance at Torrey Pines?
Weeks after his runner-up result, Mediate had become so respected and revered that he had to clear the air for anyone who might have mistaken him for the actually winner of the tournament. In an interview at a following tournament, Mediate quipped, "People may forget, but I did lose the U.S. Open, I did not win."
We can't blame anyone who might have been confused. I mean, how often does the second-place finisher make appearances on ESPN and Jay Leno's "Tonight Show"?
Now, 15 years later, Mediate is auctioning multiple items from that historic tournament, which will forever stand as the only US Open to end with an 18-hole playoff - barring a change from the PGA. We've seen gold medals sell for six-figures, such as Sam Snead's 1952 Masters award which reached $190,373 at Golden Age. We've also seen silver medals attract strong prices, like the second-place award given to Roberto De Vicenzo after the controversial 1968 Masters. That medal went for $30,326 back in 2018, an impressive total then but one that would be surpassed if the silver resurfaced in 2023.
With more than 30 bids already recorded, this limited-edition replica iron set is making waves in its first appearance at Golden Age. In total, only 50 of these sets were produced and they were only shared with a specific list of Titleist VIPs, creating immediate demand that has been left unfulfilled for more than two decades. From arguably the most dominant stretch in golf history, the irons are exact replicas of the ones used by Tiger Woods in his 26 victories between 1998-2001.
In 1998, Tiger Woods burst onto the scene by capturing his first major victory at the age of 21 at the Masters Tournament. This victory made him the youngest winner of the Masters and instantly propelled him into the spotlight.
The following year, in 1999, Tiger Woods continued his winning ways by securing his second major championship, again at the Masters. He went on to claim four additional victories on the PGA Tour that year, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory at the PGA Championship, further solidifying his dominance.
As if the previous 24-months weren't enough to cement Tiger at the top, the year 2000 solidified his place in history. At the turn of the century, Tiger won three major championships in a row, completing the "Tiger Slam" by holding all four major titles simultaneously—the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, PGA Championship, and the Masters. The actual clubs used during that historic run were sold by Golden Age last year for a record-breaking $5.2 million. In 2001, the accolades continues to multiple as Woods won his second Masters Tournament and claimed his sixth major championship. We've watched the special edition club market gain steam in recent years, with examples like the 1996 Scotty Cameron Copper Set selling for more than $15,000 earlier this year. While that set was produced in a run of 500 with a few other collections selling over the years, this Tiger Woods set will be the first of its kind to sell at the leading golf-centric auction house.
One of the greatest duos in sports history, Michael Jordan and his shoes have long created some of the most sought-after and most expensive collectibles in the industry. With sneakers that have sold for millions and a global brand worth more than $4 billion, there's no athlete on the planet who commands higher valuations for shoes he has worn than Jordan.
While MJ's love of golf has been known for years, his passion and competitiveness on the course was brought to the forefront throughout ESPN's Last Dance documentary. Famously, Jordan played Boston Celtics guard Danny Ainge in a match before Game 2 of the 1986 playoffs. After losing the round, and some money, to Ainge, Jordan told Ainge to tell Celtics guard Dennis Johnson "I got something for him tomorrow."
With his victory on the course, Aigne had triggered something within Jordan that would spark a historic performance on the hardwood. In a record-breaking performance, Jordan scored 63 points, the most ever in an NBA playoff game. Lacking the talent that would form a dynasty throughout the 1990s, the Bulls still managed to lose the game and ultimately the series, but Jordan's display of greatness on the court served as a prelude for a legendary career.
Golf is frequently headlined as a secondary sport for many of the world's best athletes, from baseball, basketball, and hockey stars, the game is enjoyed by players who make their living in other sports. The crossover was seamless for Jordan and he now owns a private club, Grove XXIII.
In 2010, these Footjoy Classic Golf Shoes worn and signed by Michael Jordan made their inaugural auction appearance, selling via Hunt Auctions for $1,200. The shoes returned to the auction block in 2020, this time at Golden Age, and sold for more than $11,000. That 9x increase in price outpaces the valuation increases found within some of Jordan's most coveted basketball sneakers, providing collectors with one of the few attainable examples of a high-quality Jordan-worn shoe. Through 27 bids, these Upper Deck authenticated 1-of-1 golf shoes are priced above $4,300 heading into the final week of the auction.
With a camera instead of a club, Julian Graham made significant contributions to the game of golf throughout the 20th century.
It was a golden age for golf in the United States, building the foundation for what the sport would become today, and Julian Graham is credited with capturing this era through the lens of a camera. As the official photographer for Samuel Morse, the man who developed various West Coast courses including Pebble Beach, Graham had access to the game's greats and his work would be featured across various publications as the sport gained popularity.
Few photographers have impacted a sport as much as Julian Graham and if you can think of a great golfer, specifically from 1930-1960, odds are, Graham once worked with them.
While Graham was carving his legacy with a camera, Bobby Jones was curating his with a club. The most successful amateur golfer to ever compete at an international level, Jones won 13 majors during his career and in 1930, became the only player to have won the pre-Masters Grand Slam. Speaking of The Masters, Jones helped design Augusta National Golf Club and acted as co-founder for the tournament.
Golden Age is offering a rare collectible that combines two men who left lasting legacies on golf. This photo featuring Bobby Jones was taken by Julian Graham at the 1929 US Amateur at Pebble Beach. Although Jones was bounced in the early stages of the tournament, he made a side trip to Cypress Point, which would act as inspiration for the creation of Augusta National Golf Club. Alister Mackenzie, the designer of Cypress Point, would lead the layout of Augusta National in the early 1930s alongside Jones.
As the market for photography, and even more specifically, golf photography, continues to develop (pun intended), collectors can expect additional emphasis to be placed on the intricacies of the photograph. While the subject of the photo will always carry the lions share of weight when determining a valuation, the person behind the camera and the story that can be built around the image will only add to its legend and lore. For any collectors of pre-war golf, a Type 1 photo taken by Julian Graham of a youthful Bobby Jones offers a unique piece of history that combines all the story telling elements needed for a great golf collectible.
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