Jim Simons

He was the 21-year old amateur and Wake Forest junior at the time, who almost won the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA.  Whatever happened to Jim Simons?  The last amateur to win the U.S. Open was in 1933!  After firing a third round 65, paired with Lee Trevino (the eventual winner), Jim Simons held a two-stroke lead going into the final round.  He ballooned to a 76 on Sunday, finishing in a tie for 5th.

Known for taking vitamins and supplements, “he was always big on what could do good for you” said his college teammate Lanny Wadkins. Jim Simons was one of the first pros to use a metal wood.  He won 3 PGA Tour events in his career.

Twice divorced, he died in his home hot tub in Jacksonville, Florida (near TPC Sawgrass) on December 8, 2005 at the age of 55.  His death was ruled accidental and caused by “multiple drug toxicity”.


Mark Spitz

He won seven gold medals in swimming at the ’72 Olympics in Munich (surpassed only by Michael Phelps’ eight in the 2008 games), set 33 world records during his brilliant career, and was voted one of the Top Five Olympians of all-time.  He’s one of only five Olympians to win 9 or more gold medals (only Phelps has more – 14).  Spitz believes he’s been an inspiration to Phelps and says he has no animosity towards him…..”It’s about time somebody else takes the throne.  I am truly happy for him”.


“Mark the Shark” retired from competition shortly after Munich games.  The Indiana University graduate has been married for 39 years, has two grown sons, and lives in Los Angeles.  He briefly came out of retirement and tried to qualify (at 41) for the ’92 Barcelona team, but was two seconds below minimum qualifying time at the trials.


He has briefly dabbled in show business, done some swimming commentary, had several huge endorsement deals, and today is primarily focusing on his Beverly Hills real estate company and his love of sailing.  Now 62, he’s also endorsing “New Vitality”, a line of men’s health and wellness products, and continuing his work as a world-renown motivational speaker on excellence.  His iconic photo with seven gold medals, self-assured smile and mustache will live on forever.