Billy Casper

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Billy Casper
Billy Casper (cropped).jpg
Casper in 2008
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Earl Casper Jr.
NicknameBuffalo Bill
Born(1931-06-24)June 24, 1931
San Diego, California
DiedFebruary 7, 2015(2015-02-07) (aged 83)
Springville, Utah
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight195 lb (88 kg; 13.9 st)
Nationality United States
SpouseShirley Casper (m. 1952–2015; his death)
Children11
Career
CollegeUniversity of Notre Dame
Turned professional1954
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Champions Tour
Professional wins71
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour51 (7th all time)
European Tour1
PGA Tour Champions9
Other9 (regular)
1 (senior)
Best results in major championships
(wins: 3)
Masters TournamentWon: 1970
PGA Championship2nd/T2: 1958, 1965, 1971
U.S. OpenWon: 1959, 1966
The Open Championship4th: 1968
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1978 (member page)
PGA Player of the Year1966, 1970
PGA Tour
leading money winner
1966, 1968
Vardon Trophy1960, 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.

In his youth, Casper started as a caddie 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]

He converted to the LDS Church in 1966. Casper was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978.

Early years[edit]

Casper was born in San Diego, California.[2] His father started him in golf at age five.[3] 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.[4] He turned professional in 1954.[5]

Professional career[edit]

Gene Littler (right) congratulates Casper with winning the 1970 Masters Tournament

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, the third-longest streak, trailing only Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who each won on Tour in 17 straight years.

On the senior circuit, Casper earned nine Senior PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour) wins from 1982 to 1989, including two senior majors.

Legacy[edit]

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.[6]

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 was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. In 2000, he was ranked as the 15th greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine.[7]

Casper's grandson, Mason Casper, played for the Utah Valley University golf team. Mason qualified for NCAA post-season play in 2012.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Casper was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joining in early 1966 at age 34, at the height of his playing career.[9][10]

Casper died at age 83 in 2015 of a heart attack at his home in Springville, Utah.[11] He 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.[12]

Other ventures[edit]

Golf course design and management[edit]

Casper in 2010

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 2017, Billy Casper Golf (BCG) is one of the largest privately owned golf course management companies in the United States, with roughly 150 owned or managed courses in their portfolio.[13] Billy Casper Golf annually hosts the "World's Largest Golf Outing" – a national golf outing fundraiser benefiting military charities.[14]

Acting[edit]

Casper had a cameo appearance in the movie, Now You See Him, Now You Don't.

Billy's Kids[edit]

Casper was active in charitable work for children and hosted fundraisers, including an annual tournament at San Diego Country Club for "Billy's Kids".

Books[edit]

  • 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 (71)[edit]

PGA Tour wins (51)[edit]

Legend
Major championships (3)
Other PGA Tour (48)
No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Jul 15, 1956 Labatt Open −14 (68-68-67-71=274) 2 strokes United States Jimmy Demaret
2 Feb 3, 1957 Phoenix Open Invitational −9 (68-71-65-67=271) 3 strokes United States Cary Middlecoff, United States Mike Souchak
3 Apr 28, 1957 Kentucky Derby Open Invitational −7 (68-68-71-70=277) 1 stroke Australia Peter Thomson
4 Jan 12, 1958 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship −11 (71-66-69-71=277) 4 strokes United States Dave Marr
5 Mar 12, 1958 Greater New Orleans Open Invitational −10 (69-70-70-69=278) Playoff United States Ken Venturi
6 Jun 23, 1958 Buick Open Invitational −3 (70-73-71-71=285) 1 stroke United States Ted Kroll, United States Arnold Palmer
7 Jun 14, 1959 U.S. Open +2 (71-68-69-74=282) 1 stroke United States Bob Rosburg
8 Oct 4, 1959 Portland Centennial Open Invitational −19 (69-64-67-69=269) 3 strokes United States Bob Duden, United States Dave Ragan
9 Nov 15, 1959 Lafayette Open Invitational −11 (69-64-71-69=273) 4 strokes United States George Bayer
10 Nov 22, 1959 Mobile Sertoma Open Invitational −8 (71-68-68-73=280) 2 strokes United States Wes Ellis, United States Dave Ragan
11 Sep 25, 1960 Portland Open Invitational (2) −22 (68-67-66-65=266) 2 strokes United States Paul Harney
12 Oct 3, 1960 Hesperia Open Invitational −13 (70-68-67-70=275) 5 strokes United States Bob Rosburg
13 Oct 16, 1960 Orange County Open Invitational −8 (70-68-69-69=276) 1 stroke United States Charlie Sifford
14 Sep 24, 1961 Portland Open Invitational (3) −15 (68-71-67-67=273) 1 stroke United States Dave Hill
15 Mar 26, 1962 Doral C.C. Open Invitational −5 (70-67-75-71=283) 1 stroke United States Pete Bondeson
16 Apr 15, 1962 Greater Greensboro Open −9 (69-70-68-68=275) 1 stroke United States Mike Souchak
17 May 27, 1962 500 Festival Open Invitation −20 (66-67-67-64=264) 1 stroke United States George Bayer, United States Jerry Steelsmith
18 Oct 14, 1962 Bakersfield Open Invitational −16 (69-71-65-67=272) 4 strokes United States Tony Lema
19 Jan 20, 1963 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (2) −3 (73-65-73-74=285) 1 stroke United States Dave Hill, United States Jack Nicklaus,
South Africa Gary Player, United States Bob Rosburg,
United States Art Wall Jr.
20 Aug 18, 1963 Insurance City Open Invitational −13 (67-68-71-65=271) 1 stroke United States George Bayer
21 Mar 22, 1964 Doral Open Invitational (2) −11 (70-70-67-70=277) 1 stroke United States Jack Nicklaus
22 May 10, 1964 Colonial National Invitation −1 (72-67-70-70=279) 4 strokes United States Tommy Jacobs
23 Sep 27, 1964 Greater Seattle Open Invitational −15 (68-67-66-64=265) 2 strokes United States Mason Rudolph
24 Nov 3, 1964 Almaden Open Invitational −9 (68-70-73-68=279) Playoff United States Pete Brown, United States Jerry Steelsmith
25 Feb 7, 1965 Bob Hope Desert Classic −12 (70-70-69-67-72=348) 1 stroke United States Tommy Aaron, United States Arnold Palmer
26 Jul 4, 1965 Western Open −14 (70-66-70-64=270) 2 strokes United States Jack McGowan, United States Chi-Chi Rodríguez
27 Jul 25, 1965 Insurance City Open Invitational (2) −10 (70-72-66-66=274) Playoff United States Johnny Pott
28 Oct 23, 1965 Sahara Invitational −15 (66-66-68-69=269) 3 strokes United States Billy Martindale
29 Jan 16, 1966 San Diego Open Invitational −16 (70-66-68-64=268) 4 strokes United States Tommy Aaron, United States Tom Weiskopf
30 Jun 20, 1966 U.S. Open (2) −2 (69-68-73-68=278) Playoff United States Arnold Palmer
31 Jun 26, 1966 Western Open (2) −1 (69-72-72-70=283) 3 strokes United States Gay Brewer
32 Jul 31, 1966 500 Festival Open Invitation (2) −11 (69-70-68-70=277) 3 strokes United States R. H. Sikes
33 Jul 3, 1967 Canadian Open −5 (69-70-71-69=279) Playoff United States Art Wall Jr.
34 Sep 4, 1967 Carling World Open −3 (74-68-70-69=281) Playoff United States Al Geiberger
35 Jan 28, 1968 Los Angeles Open −10 (70-67-68-69=274) 3 strokes United States Arnold Palmer
36 Apr 8, 1968 Greater Greensboro Open (2) −17 (65-67-69-66=267) 4 strokes United States George Archer, United States Gene Littler,
United States Bobby Nichols
37 May 19, 1968 Colonial National Invitation (2) −5 (68-71-68-68=275) 5 strokes United States Gene Littler
38 Jun 9, 1968 500 Festival Open Invitation (3) −8 (70-71-69-70=280) 1 stroke United States Frank Beard, United States Mike Hill
39 Sep 8, 1968 Greater Hartford Open Invitational (3) −18 (68-65-67-66=266) 3 strokes Australia Bruce Crampton
40 Nov 3, 1968 Lucky International Open −15 (68-65-70-66=269) 4 strokes United States Raymond Floyd, United States Don Massengale
41 Feb 9, 1969 Bob Hope Desert Classic (2) −15 (71-68-71-69-66=345) 3 strokes United States Dave Hill
42 Jun 8, 1969 Western Open (3) −8 (72-69-68-67=276) 4 strokes United States Rocky Thompson
43 Sep 28, 1969 Alcan Open −14 (70-68-70-66=274) 1 stroke United States Lee Trevino
44 Jan 11, 1970 Los Angeles Open (2) −8 (68-68-68-72=276) Playoff United States Hale Irwin
45 Apr 13, 1970 Masters Tournament −9 (72-68-68-71=279) Playoff United States Gene Littler
46 Jul 19, 1970 IVB-Philadelphia Golf Classic −14 (68-67-71-68=274) 3 strokes United States Terry Wilcox
47 Aug 24, 1970 AVCO Golf Classic −11 (68-67-73-69=277) 1 stroke United States Rod Funseth, United States Tom Weiskopf
48 Oct 24, 1971 Kaiser International Open Invitational −19 (67-65-69-68=269) 4 strokes United States Fred Marti
49 Jul 1, 1973 Western Open (4) −12 (67-69-67-69=272) 1 stroke United States Larry Hinson, United States Hale Irwin
50 Sep 3, 1973 Sammy Davis Jr.-Greater Hartford Open (4) −20 (67-65-68-64=264) 1 stroke United States Bruce Devlin
51 May 18, 1975 First NBC New Orleans Open (2) −17 (67-68-66-70=271) 2 strokes England Peter Oosterhuis

Source:[15]

PGA Tour playoff record (8–8)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1958 Greater New Orleans Open Invitational United States Ken Venturi Won with eagle on second extra hole
2 1961 Buick Open United States Jack Burke Jr., United States Johnny Pott Burke won 18-hole playoff;
Burke: −1 (71),
Casper: +2 (74),
Pott: +2 (74)
3 1964 Almaden Open Invitational United States Pete Brown, United States Jerry Steelsmith Won with birdie on third extra hole after 18 hole playoff;
Casper: −4 (68),
Brown: −4 (68),
Steelsmith: +1 (73)
4 1965 San Diego Open Invitational United States Wes Ellis Lost to birdie on first extra hole
5 1965 Insurance City Open Invitational United States Johnny Pott Won with birdie on first extra hole
6 1966 U.S. Open United States Arnold Palmer Won 18-hole playoff;
Casper: −1 (69),
Palmer: +1 (73)
7 1967 Canadian Open United States Art Wall Jr. Won 18-hole playoff;
Casper: −6 (65),
Wall: −2 (69)
8 1967 Carling World Open United States Al Geiberger Won with par on first extra hole
9 1967 Hawaiian Open United States Dudley Wysong Lost to par on first extra hole
10 1968 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Australia Bruce Devlin, United States Johnny Pott Pott won with birdie on first extra hole
11 1969 Kaiser International Open Invitational United States George Archer, United States Don January,
United States Jack Nicklaus
Nicklaus won with birdie on second extra hole
January eliminated with birdie on first hole
12 1970 Los Angeles Open United States Hale Irwin Won with birdie on first extra hole
13 1970 Masters Tournament United States Gene Littler Won 18-hole playoff;
Casper: −3 (69),
Littler: +2 (74)
14 1971 Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open United States Bob Lunn Lost to birdie on fourth extra hole
15 1972 Byron Nelson Golf Classic United States Chi-Chi Rodríguez Lost to birdie on first extra hole
16 1975 World Open Golf Championship United States Jack Nicklaus Lost to par on first extra hole

European Tour wins (1)[edit]

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
victory
Runner-up
1 Oct 19, 1975 Italian Open −2 (74-69-70-73=286) 1 stroke Scotland Brian Barnes

Other wins (9)[edit]

This list is incomplete.

Senior PGA Tour wins (9)[edit]

Legend
Senior PGA Tour major championships (2)
Other Senior PGA Tour (7)
No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Aug 28, 1982 Shootout at Jeremy Ranch −9 (74-71-69-65=279) 1 stroke United States Miller Barber, United States Don January
2 Sep 19, 1982 Merrill Lynch/Golf Digest Commemorative Pro-Am −10 (68-7-68=206) Playoff United States Bob Toski
3 Jul 25, 1983 U.S. Senior Open +4 (73-73-69-73=288) Playoff United States Rod Funseth
4 Apr 22, 1984 Senior PGA Tour Roundup −14 (68-69-65=202) 2 strokes United States Bob Stone
5 Mar 15, 1987 Del E. Webb Arizona Classic −15 (68-65-68=201) 5 strokes New Zealand Bob Charles, United States Dale Douglass
6 Jun 28, 1987 Greater Grand Rapids Open −13 (69-68-63=200) 3 strokes United States Miller Barber
7 May 8, 1988 Vantage at The Dominion −14 (70-68-67=205) 1 stroke United States Chi-Chi Rodríguez
8 Jun 12, 1988 Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship −10 (69-68-74-67=278) 2 strokes United States Al Geiberger
9 Oct 22, 1989 Transamerica Senior Golf Championship −9 (69-70-68=207) 3 strokes United States Al Geiberger

Senior PGA Tour playoff record (2–3)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1981 U.S. Senior Open United States Arnold Palmer, United States Bob Stone Palmer won 18-hole playoff;
Palmer: E (70),
Stone: +4 (74),
Casper: +7 (77)
2 1982 Merrill Lynch/Golf Digest Commemorative Pro-Am United States Bob Toski Won with birdie on fourth extra hole
3 1983 Gatlin Brothers Seniors Golf Classic United States Don January Lost to par on fifth extra hole
4 1983 U.S. Senior Open United States Rod Funseth Won with birdie on first extra hole after 18-hole playoff;
Casper: +4 (75),
Funseth: +4 (75)
5 1988 United Hospitals Classic Australia Bruce Crampton Lost to birdie on first extra hole

Other senior wins (1)[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Wins (3)[edit]

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).

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament T16 T20 CUT
U.S. Open T14 CUT T13 1
The Open Championship
PGA Championship 2 T17
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament 4 T7 T15 T11 T5 T35 T10 T24 T16 T2
U.S. Open T12 T17 CUT 4 T17 1 4 T9 T40
The Open Championship 4 T25
PGA Championship T24 T15 T51 T9 T2 T3 19 T6 T35
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Masters Tournament 1 T13 T17 T17 T37 6 8 T14 CUT 43
U.S. Open T8 CUT T11 CUT CUT CUT T30
The Open Championship T17 T7 T40
PGA Championship T18 2 T4 T35 T63 T5 T51 T31 CUT CUT
Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
Masters Tournament CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT T57 CUT T50 CUT CUT
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUT T67 CUT
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Masters Tournament CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT WD
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Masters Tournament WD CUT WD
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship
  Win
  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the half-way cut
WD = withdrew
"T" = tied

Summary[edit]

Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 1 1 0 4 8 18 45 23
U.S. Open 2 0 0 4 6 12 20 14
The Open Championship 0 0 0 1 2 4 5 5
PGA Championship 0 3 1 6 8 13 24 20
Totals 3 4 1 15 24 47 94 62
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 27 (1962 PGA – 1971 Masters)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 4 (twice)

Champions Tour major championships[edit]

Wins (2)[edit]

Year Championship Winning score Margin Runner-up
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[edit]

Professional

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Diaz, Jaime (June 2012). "Out Of The Darkness". Golf Digest. Archived from the original on 2015-02-10.
  2. ^ "PGA Tour profile – Billy Casper". PGA Tour. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  3. ^ "PGA Tour Media Guide – Billy Casper". Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  4. ^ Peery, Paul D. (1969). Billy Casper: Winner. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 978-0130762818.
  5. ^ "Casper Tops Million Mark". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. UPI. January 12, 1970. p. 62. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  6. ^ "Billy Casper profile". World Golf Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  7. ^ Yocom, Guy (July 2000). "50 Greatest Golfers of All Time: And What They Taught Us". Golf Digest. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
  8. ^ "Golf: Utah Valley golfer receives NCAA Tournament bid". The Salt Lake Tribune. May 7, 2012.
  9. ^ Hoefflin, Walter (September 22, 1966). "Billy Casper faces varied conflicts". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 2D.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Billy Casper passes away at age 83". PGA Tour. February 8, 2015.
  12. ^ Goldstein, Richard (February 7, 2015). "Billy Casper, Overlooked Titan of Golf, Dies at 83". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Providing Solutions for Golf Courses & Golf Course Owners". Billy Casper Golf. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "World's Largest Golf Outing a BCG Venture". Billy Casper Golf. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  15. ^ Barkow, Al (1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Doubleday. pp. 262–3. ISBN 0-385-26145-4.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]