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Posts Tagged ‘Gene Littler’

Golfing legend “Buffalo Bill” Billy Casper passes away at age 83

Billy Casper (2010 photo by Keith Allison via wikipedia commons)

Often overshadowed by the rising careers of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, who were considered to be the “Big Three” during that era,  Billy Casper was a star in his own right. He was one of the most prolific tournament winners on the PGA TOUR from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

The winner of 51 tournaments and one of the sport’s finest putters, suffered a heart attack and died Saturday at his home in Springville, Utah. He was 83.

Casper is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley, 11 children, six of whom are adopted, and 71 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Known by his colleagues as “Buffalo Bill” due to his diet of exotic meats such as caribou, elk, hippopotamus and buffalo.

Casper got started in golf at the age of seven with the urging of his father. He spent one semester at the University of Notre Dame before returning to his native San Diego. He married his wife, Shirley in 1952. Before turning professional in 1954, he played in several amateur tournament around the San Diego area against fellow native Gene Littler.

Speaking of Littler, Casper won the  1970 Masters Tournament in the event’s last 18-hole playoff over his childhood friend. He defeated Littler by five shots.

Between 1956 until 1975, Casper won 51 PGA TOUR titles — including three major championships — and led the money list in 1966 and 1968. His 51 career victories place him seventh on the TOUR’s all-time victories list.

Casper won at least one PGA TOUR title for 16 consecutive years and earned titles in three different decades. He also enjoyed 14 seasons where he won at least two tournaments, the high mark coming in 1968 when he earned six tournament titles. That streak is the third longest streak on tour, trailing only Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who each won on TOUR in 17 straight seasons.

In 1979, Casper captained the U.S. squad to victory over Europe.

On the Senior Tour, which is now the Champions Tour, earned nine wins including two senior majors.

In 1978, Casper became inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame along with Dorothy Campbell Hurd Howe, Bing Crosby, Harold Hilton and Clifford Roberts.