Billy Casper dies

Three-time Major champion Billy Casper has died at the age of 83

Billy Casper
Billy Casper
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Three-time Major champion Billy Casper suffered a heart attack and died on Saturday aged 83, at his home in Springview, Utah.

Three-time Major champion Billy Casper suffered a heart attack and died on Saturday aged 83, at his home in Springview, Utah.

Casper won 51 titles on the PGA Tour; only six men have more victories. He led the money list in 1966 and 1968 and he claimed at least one win on the circuit in 16 consecutive seasons between 1956 and 1971.

Born in San Diego, California in 1931 Casper took up golf aged just five, his father starting him out in the game. He turned professional in 1954 and won his first PGA Tour event in 1956.

Casper had a phenomenal Ryder Cup record. He played in the great trans-Atlantic contest eight times and amassed 23.5 points from 37 matches. No American player has so many Ryder Cup points to his name. He won his first seven matches in the biennial competition and he only lost twice in singles.

In 1979, Casper captained the American Ryder Cup team to victory over the first European team at the Greenbrier in Virginia.

Casper’s first Major came in the U.S. Open of 1959 at Winged Foot in New York. He went into the final round of that event two clear of Ben Hogan and three ahead of Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer. All of the favourites struggled on the final day, but Casper held on to win by one from Bob Rosburg.

In the U.S. Open of 1966 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Casper was seven shots down on Arnold Palmer with just nine holes to play. Palmer looked to have the tournament sewn up, but Casper fought back and came home in 32. Palmer fired 39 and they finished tied on 278.

In the 18-hole playoff, Casper won by four strokes. He scored a 69 against Palmer’s 73.

Casper’s win at the 1970 Masters also came courtesy of a playoff. He defeated Gene Littler over an extra 18-holes at Augusta, 69 to 74. He continued to participate in The Masters until as recently as 2005. In that tournament he fired an opening round of 106 before withdrawing from the competition.

Through his career Casper was an ardent charity worker, both in the San Diego area and Utah. Amongst other schemes, he set up the "Billy’s Kids" initiative. Casper is survived by his wife and 11 children, six of whom are adopted, and 71 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?