- Billy Casper is also the name of the protagonist of A Kestrel for a Knave.
|— Golfer —|
Casper in 2008
|Full name||William Earl Casper, Jr.|
June 24, 1931|
San Diego, California
|Died||February 7, 2015 (aged 83)
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight||195 lb (88 kg; 13.9 st)|
|Spouse||Shirley Casper (m. 1952–2015; his death)|
|College||University of Notre Dame|
|Former tour(s)||PGA Tour
|Number of wins by tour|
|PGA Tour||51 (7th all time)|
|Best results in major championships
|Masters Tournament||Won: 1970|
|U.S. Open||Won: 1959, 1966|
|The Open Championship||4th: 1968|
|PGA Championship||2nd/T2: 1958, 1965, 1971|
|Achievements and awards|
|World Golf Hall of Fame||1978 (member page)|
|PGA Player of the Year||1966, 1970|
leading money winner
|Vardon Trophy||1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968|
William Earl Casper, Jr. (June 24, 1931 – February 7, 2015) was an American professional golfer. He was one of the most prolific tournament winners on the PGA Tour from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.
Casper started as a caddie in his youth, and emerged from the junior golf hotbed of San Diego, where golf could be played year-round, to rank seventh all-time in career Tour wins with 51, across a 20-year period between 1956 and 1975. Fellow San Diegan great Gene Littler was a friend and rival from teenager to senior. Casper won three major championships, represented the United States on a then-record eight Ryder Cup teams, and holds the U.S. record for career Ryder Cup points won. After reaching age 50, Casper regularly played the Senior PGA Tour and was a winner there until 1989. In his later years, Casper successfully developed businesses in golf course design and management of golf facilities.
Casper served as Ryder Cup captain in 1979, was twice PGA Player of the Year (1966 and 1970), was twice leading money winner, and won five Vardon Trophy awards for the lowest seasonal scoring average on the Tour.
Respected for his extraordinary putting and short-game skills, Casper was a superior strategist who overcame his distance disadvantages against longer-hitting competitors such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus with moxie, creative shot-making, and clever golf-course management abilities. Never a flashy gallery favorite, Casper developed his own self-contained style, relying on solid technique, determination, concentration, and perseverance.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Professional career
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Other ventures
- 6 Professional wins (69)
- 7 Major championships
- 8 Champions Tour major championships
- 9 U.S. national team appearances
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Casper was born in San Diego, California. His father started him in golf at age five. Casper caddied during his youth at San Diego Country Club to earn money for golf, and spent one semester at the University of Notre Dame on a golf scholarship, after graduating from high school. He returned to San Diego to marry his wife Shirley in 1952. Casper competed frequently as an amateur against fellow San Diegan Gene Littler. He turned professional in 1954.
Casper had 51 PGA Tour wins in his career, with his first coming in 1956. This total places him seventh on the all-time list. His victories helped him finish third in McCormack's World Golf Rankings in 1968, 1969 and 1970, the first three years they were published. He won three major championships: the 1959 and 1966 U.S. Opens, and the 1970 Masters Tournament.
He was the PGA Tour Money Winner in 1966 and 1968. He was PGA Player of the Year in 1966 and 1970. Casper won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average five times: 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, and 1968.
Casper was a member of the United States team in the Ryder Cup eight times: 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, and a non-playing captain in 1979. Casper has scored the most points in the Ryder Cup by an American player.
Casper won at least one PGA Tour event for 16 straight seasons, from 1956 to 1971 inclusive, and this is the third-longest streak, trailing only Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who each won on Tour in 17 straight years.
Much has been written in the annals of golf that Casper was the most underrated star in golf history, and the best modern golfer who never received the accolades he deserved. He was not considered one of the "Big Three" — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player — who are widely credited with popularizing and bringing enormous commercial success to the sport around the world; however, between 1964 and 1970, Casper won 27 tournaments on the PGA Tour, two more than Nicklaus and six more than Palmer and Player combined, during that time period. He is considered by many to have been the best putter of his era.
Casper's 20-year period of winning on the PGA Tour—between 1956 and 1975—was an era of extraordinary growth in tournament purses, television coverage and depth of competition. Casper faced legends such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Gary Player and Lee Trevino when they were all at or near their peaks.
Casper's grandson, Mason Casper, is on the Utah Valley University golf team. Mason qualified for NCAA post-season play in 2012.
Casper died at his home in Springville, Utah of a heart attack on February 7, 2015, aged 83. Casper was survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Shirley Franklin Casper, 11 children, six of whom are adopted, 71 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Golf course design and management
After his professional career, Casper was a designer for many golf courses, such as The Highlands, The Palm and Eagle Crest in Sun City Summerlin, Nevada. As of 2011[update], his management company, Billy Casper Golf, was the second-largest operator of golf courses in the United States, and managed more than 140 golf facilities.
Casper had a cameo appearance in the movie, Now You See Him, Now You Don't.
Casper was active in charitable work for children and hosted fundraisers, including an annual tournament at San Diego Country Club for "Billy's Kids".
- Casper, Billy; Toski, Bob (1966). Golf Shotmaking. Golf Digest/Doubleday. ASIN B0000CN8TV.
- Casper, Billy; Barkow, Al (1980). The Good Sense of Golf. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 978-0133605112.
- Casper, Billy; Parkinson, James; Benson, Lee (2012). The Big Three And Me. Genesis Press. ISBN 978-1-58571-628-9.
Professional wins (69)
PGA Tour wins (51)
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||Jul 15, 1956||Labatt Open||−14 (68-68-67-71=274)||2 strokes||Jimmy Demaret|
|2||Feb 3, 1957||Phoenix Open Invitational||−9 (68-71-65-67=271)||3 strokes||Cary Middlecoff, Mike Souchak|
|3||Apr 28, 1957||Kentucky Derby Open Invitational||−7 (68-68-71-70=277)||1 stroke||Peter Thomson|
|4||Jan 12, 1958||Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship||−11 (71-66-69-71=277)||4 strokes||Dave Marr|
|5||Mar 12, 1958||Greater New Orleans Open Invitational||−10 (69-70-70-69=278)||Playoff||Ken Venturi|
|6||Jun 23, 1958||Buick Open Invitational||−3 (70-73-71-71=285)||1 stroke||Ted Kroll, Arnold Palmer|
|7||Jun 14, 1959||U.S. Open||+2 (71-68-69-74=282)||1 stroke||Bob Rosburg|
|8||Oct 4, 1959||Portland Centennial Open Invitational||−19 (69-64-67-69=269)||3 strokes||Bob Duden, Dave Ragan|
|9||Nov 15, 1959||Lafayette Open Invitational||−11 (69-64-71-69=273)||4 strokes||George Bayer|
|10||Nov 22, 1959||Mobile Sertoma Open Invitational||−8 (71-68-68-73=280)||2 strokes||Wes Ellis, Dave Ragan|
|11||Sep 25, 1960||Portland Open Invitational||−22 (68-67-66-65=266)||2 strokes||Paul Harney|
|12||Oct 3, 1960||Hesperia Open Invitational||−13 (70-68-67-70=275)||5 strokes||Bob Rosburg|
|13||Oct 16, 1960||Orange County Open Invitational||−8 (70-68-69-69=276)||1 stroke||Charlie Sifford|
|14||Sep 24, 1961||Portland Open Invitational||−15 (68-71-67-67=273)||1 stroke||Dave Hill|
|15||Mar 26, 1962||Doral C.C. Open Invitational||−5 (70-67-75-71=283)||1 stroke||Pete Bondeson|
|16||Apr 15, 1962||Greater Greensboro Open||−9 (69-70-68-68=275)||1 stroke||Mike Souchak|
|17||May 27, 1962||500 Festival Open Invitation||−20 (66-67-67-64=264)||1 stroke||George Bayer, Jerry Steelsmith|
|18||Oct 14, 1962||Bakersfield Open Invitational||−16 (69-71-65-67=272)||4 strokes||Tony Lema|
|19||Jan 20, 1963||Bing Crosby National Pro-Am||−3 (73-65-73-74=285)||1 stroke|| Dave Hill, Jack Nicklaus,
Gary Player, Bob Rosburg,
Art Wall, Jr.
|20||Aug 18, 1963||Insurance City Open Invitational||−13 (67-68-71-65=271)||1 stroke||George Bayer|
|21||Mar 22, 1964||Doral Open Invitational||−11 (70-70-67-70=277)||1 stroke||Jack Nicklaus|
|22||May 10, 1964||Colonial National Invitation||−1 (72-67-70-70=279)||4 strokes||Tommy Jacobs|
|23||Sep 27, 1964||Greater Seattle Open Invitational||−15 (68-67-66-64=265)||2 strokes||Mason Rudolph|
|24||Nov 3, 1964||Almaden Open Invitational||−9 (68-70-73-68=279)||Playoff||Pete Brown, Jerry Steelsmith|
|25||Feb 7, 1965||Bob Hope Desert Classic||−12 (70-70-69-67-72=348)||1 stroke||Tommy Aaron, Arnold Palmer|
|26||Jul 4, 1965||Western Open||−14 (70-66-70-64=270)||2 strokes||Jack McGowan, Chi Chi Rodriguez|
|27||Jul 25, 1965||Insurance City Open Invitational||−10 (70-72-66-66=274)||Playoff||Johnny Pott|
|28||Oct 23, 1965||Sahara Invitational||−15 (66-66-68-69=269)||3 strokes||Billy Martindale|
|29||Jan 16, 1966||San Diego Open Invitational||−16 (70-66-68-64=268)||4 strokes||Tommy Aaron, Tom Weiskopf|
|30||Jun 20, 1966||U.S. Open||−2 (69-68-73-68=278)||Playoff||Arnold Palmer|
|31||Jun 26, 1966||Western Open||−1 (69-72-72-70=283)||3 strokes||Gay Brewer|
|32||Jul 31, 1966||500 Festival Open Invitation||−11 (69-70-68-70=277)||3 strokes||R. H. Sikes|
|33||Jul 3, 1967||Canadian Open||−5 (69-70-71-69=279)||Playoff||Art Wall, Jr.|
|34||Sep 4, 1967||Carling World Open||−3 (74-68-70-69=281)||Playoff||Al Geiberger|
|35||Jan 28, 1968||Los Angeles Open||−10 (70-67-68-69=274)||3 strokes||Arnold Palmer|
|36||Apr 8, 1968||Greater Greensboro Open||−17 (65-67-69-66=267)||4 strokes|| George Archer, Gene Littler,
|37||May 19, 1968||Colonial National Invitation||−5 (68-71-68-68=275)||5 strokes||Gene Littler|
|38||Jun 9, 1968||500 Festival Open Invitation||−8 (70-71-69-70=280)||1 stroke||Frank Beard, Mike Hill|
|39||Sep 8, 1968||Greater Hartford Open Invitational||−18 (68-65-67-66=266)||3 strokes||Bruce Crampton|
|40||Nov 3, 1968||Lucky International Open||−15 (68-65-70-66=269)||4 strokes||Raymond Floyd, Don Massengale|
|41||Feb 9, 1969||Bob Hope Desert Classic||−15 (71-68-71-69-66=345)||3 strokes||Dave Hill|
|42||Jun 8, 1969||Western Open||−8 (72-69-68-67=276)||4 strokes||Rocky Thompson|
|43||Sep 28, 1969||Alcan Open||−14 (70-68-70-66=274)||1 stroke||Lee Trevino|
|44||Jan 11, 1970||Los Angeles Open||−8 (68-68-68-72=276)||Playoff||Hale Irwin|
|45||Apr 13, 1970||Masters Tournament||−9 (72-68-68-71=279)||Playoff||Gene Littler|
|46||Jul 19, 1970||IVB-Philadelphia Golf Classic||−14 (68-67-71-68=274)||3 strokes||Terry Wilcox|
|47||Aug 24, 1970||AVCO Golf Classic||−11 (68-67-73-69=277)||1 stroke||Rod Funseth, Tom Weiskopf|
|48||Oct 24, 1971||Kaiser International Open Invitational||−19 (67-65-69-68=269)||4 strokes||Fred Marti|
|49||Jul 1, 1973||Western Open||−12 (67-69-67-69=272)||1 stroke||Larry Hinson, Hale Irwin|
|50||Sep 3, 1973||Sammy Davis Jr.-Greater Hartford Open||−20 (67-65-68-64=264)||1 stroke||Bruce Devlin|
|51||May 18, 1975||First NBC New Orleans Open||−17 (67-68-66-70=271)||2 strokes||Peter Oosterhuis|
PGA Tour playoff record (8–8)
|1||1958||Greater New Orleans Open Invitational||Ken Venturi||Won with eagle on second extra hole|
|2||1961||Buick Open||Jack Burke, Jr., Johnny Pott||Lost an 18-hole playoff (Burke:71, Casper:74, Pott:74)|
|3||1964||Almaden Open Invitational||Pete Brown, Jerry Steelsmith||Won with birdie on third sudden death playoff hole
Steelsmith eliminated in 18-hole playoff (Casper:68, Brown:68, Steelsmith:73)
|4||1965||San Diego Open Invitational||Wes Ellis||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
|5||1965||Insurance City Open Invitational||Johnny Pott||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|6||1966||U.S. Open||Arnold Palmer||Won an 18-hole playoff (Casper:69, Palmer:73)|
|7||1967||Canadian Open||Art Wall, Jr.||Won an 18-hole playoff (Casper:65, Wall, Jr.:69)|
|8||1967||Carling World Open||Al Geiberger||Won with par on first extra hole|
|9||1967||Hawaiian Open||Dudley Wysong||Lost to par on first extra hole|
|10||1968||Bing Crosby National Pro-Am||Bruce Devlin, Johnny Pott||Pott won with birdie on first extra hole|
|11||1969||Kaiser International Open Invitational||George Archer, Don January, Jack Nicklaus||Nicklaus won with birdie on second extra hole
January eliminated with birdie on first hole
|12||1970||Los Angeles Open||Hale Irwin||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|13||1970||Masters Tournament||Gene Littler||Won an 18-hole playoff (Casper:69, Littler:74)|
|14||1971||Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open||Bob Lunn||Lost to birdie on fourth extra hole|
|15||1972||Byron Nelson Golf Classic||Chi Chi Rodriguez||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
|16||1975||World Open Golf Championship||Jack Nicklaus||Lost to par on first extra hole|
European Tour wins (1)
- 1975 Italian Open
Other wins (7)
- This list is incomplete.
- 1958 Brazil Open
- 1959 Brazil Open
- 1971 Miki Gold Cup (tie with Masashi Ozaki)
- 1973 Hassan II Golf Trophy
- 1974 Trophée Lancôme (France, unofficial European Tour event)
- 1975 Hassan II Golf Trophy
- 1977 Mexican Open
Senior PGA Tour wins (9)
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||Aug 28, 1982||Shootout at Jeremy Ranch||−9 (74-71-69-65=279)||1 stroke||Miller Barber, Don January|
|2||Sep 19, 1982||Merrill Lynch/Golf Digest Commemorative Pro-Am||−10 (68-7-68=206)||Playoff||Bob Toski|
|3||Jul 25, 1983||U.S. Senior Open||+4 (73-73-69-73=288)||Playoff||Rod Funseth|
|4||Apr 22, 1984||Senior PGA Tour Roundup||−14 (68-69-65=202)||2 strokes||Bob Stone|
|5||Mar 15, 1987||Del E. Webb Arizona Classic||−15 (68-65-68=201)||5 strokes||Bob Charles, Dale Douglass|
|6||Jun 28, 1987||Greater Grand Rapids Open||−13 (69-68-63=200)||3 strokes||Miller Barber|
|7||May 8, 1988||Vantage at The Dominion||−14 (70-68-67=205)||1 stroke||Chi-Chi Rodríguez|
|8||Jun 12, 1988||Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship||−10 (69-68-74-67=278)||2 strokes||Al Geiberger|
|9||Oct 22, 1989||Transamerica Senior Golf Championship||−9 (69-70-68=207)||3 strokes||Al Geiberger|
Senior PGA Tour playoff record (2–3)
|1||1981||U.S. Senior Open||Arnold Palmer, Bob Stone||Lost 18-hole playoff (Palmer 70, Stone:74, Casper:77)|
|2||1982||Merrill Lynch/Golf Digest Commemorative Pro-Am||Bob Toski||Won with birdie on fourth extra hole|
|3||1983||Gatlin Brothers Seniors Golf Classic||Don January||Lost to par on fifth extra hole|
|4||1983||U.S. Senior Open||Rod Funseth||Won with birdie on first extra hole after 18-hole playoff (Casper:75, Funseth:75)|
|5||1988||United Hospitals Classic||Bruce Crampton||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
Senior major championships are shown in bold.
Other senior wins (1)
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner-up|
|1959||U.S. Open||3 shot lead||−2 (71-68-69-74=282)||1 stroke||Bob Rosburg|
|1966||U.S. Open (2)||3 shot deficit||−2 (69-68-73-68=278)||Playoff 1||Arnold Palmer|
|1970||Masters Tournament||1 shot lead||−9 (72-68-68-71=279)||Playoff 2||Gene Littler|
1 Defeated Palmer in an 18-hole playoff: Casper 69 (−1), Palmer 73 (+3).
2 Defeated Littler in an 18-hole playoff: Casper 69 (−3), Littler 74 (+2).
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||4||T25|
|The Open Championship||T17||T7||T40||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10
|The Open Championship||0||0||0||1||2||4||5||5|
- Most consecutive cuts made – 27 (1962 PGA – 1971 Masters)
- Longest streak of top-10s – 4 (twice)
Champions Tour major championships
|1983||United States Senior Open||+4 (73-69-73-73=288)||Playoff1||Rod Funseth|
|1988||Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship||−10 (69-68-74-67=278)||2 strokes||Al Geiberger|
1 18-hole playoff finished in a tie, Casper (75) to Funseth (75), Casper won with a birdie on the first sudden-death hole.
U.S. national team appearances
- Ryder Cup: 1961 (winners), 1963 (winners), 1965 (winners), 1967 (winners), 1969 (winners), 1971 (winners), 1973 (winners), 1975 (winners), 1979 (winners, non-playing captain)
- List of golfers with most PGA Tour wins
- List of men's major championships winning golfers
- List of longest PGA Tour win streaks
- Diaz, Jaime (June 2012). "Out Of The Darkness". Golf Digest.
- "PGA Tour profile – Billy Casper". PGA Tour. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- "PGA Tour Media Guide – Billy Casper". Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Peery, Paul D. (1969). Billy Casper: Winner. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 978-0130762818.
- "Casper Tops Million Mark". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. UPI. January 12, 1970. p. 62. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
- "Billy Casper profile". World Golf Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Yocom, Guy (July 2000). "50 Greatest Golfers of All Time: And What They Taught Us". Golf Digest. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
- "Golf: Utah Valley golfer receives NCAA Tournament bid". The Salt Lake Tribune. May 7, 2012.
- Haws, J. B. (2013). The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-19-989764-3.
- "Billy Casper passes away at age 83". PGA Tour. February 8, 2015.
- Goldstein, Richard (February 7, 2015). "Billy Casper, Overlooked Titan of Golf, Dies at 83". The New York Times.
- "Billy Casper Golf". Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Barkow, Al (1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Doubleday. pp. 262–3. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.
- Ward, Brooke; Spencer, Jenny (September 18, 2014). "Johnny Lingo Cast, The Jets, and Other Mormon Celebs: Where They Are Now". LDS Living.
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