Still the all-time leader in points in U. S. Ryder Cup Team history, Billy Casper was named PGA Player of the Year in 1966 and ’ 70.
remains the all-time leading point winner in U.S. Ryder Cup history. Casper was the 1966 and ’ 70 PGA Player of the Year, a five-time Vardon Trophy winner and was also inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 1982.
Casper succeeded in the same era as icons Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – the celebrated “Big Three,” who combined for 34 professional major championships.
Casper is currently writing a book, “The
Magnificent Fourth,” that he says is not a
testament to his being overshadowed by his
contemporaries. The book, he explains,
“contains my views on life and what Billy
Casper is made of. I was not as well known,
but I also was concentrating on supporting
and spending time with my family. I
remember well how I started playing for a
living. I was going from earning 54.50
every two weeks [in the Navy] to having the
opportunity to play and earn 18,000 on
my first year on Tour and finished the
No. 12 money winner.”
Casper’s first professional victory, the
1956 Labatt Open, came at Canada’s Royal
Quebec Golf Club. He established himself
152 THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM OF THE 2010 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
internationally by winning the 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, taking only 114 putts for the week with his trademark mallet-headed putter on the slick greens.
Perhaps his signature triumph was the 1966 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club near San Francisco, where he rallied from a seven-stroke deficit on the final nine holes on Sunday to tie Palmer, then won an 18-hole playoff the following day. Casper won the 1970 Masters, also in extra holes, defeating boyhood golfing pal, Gene Littler, in the last 18-hole playoff conducted at Augusta National Golf Club.
Few players past or present can compare to Casper’s excellence in the Ryder Cup. He competed on eight consecutive U.S. Teams between 1961 and 1975, posting a 20-10-7 overall record and earned 23Q points, the most by any American player. Casper served as Ryder Cup Captain in 1979, and guided the U.S. to a 17-11 victory at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Casper was introduced to the game by his father at age 4Q and began caddieing at 11. He began polishing his game through the help of his father and uncle, and later taking advantage of three golf holes that they built in a cow pasture on his grandfather’s ranch near Silver City in central New Mexico.
“My Dad and uncle would work, and then
I’d accompany them on the three holes,”
says Casper. “My parents were strict and
taught me the proper fundamentals that I
would use in my life. They taught me
commitment to work hard.”
Casper’s final PGA Tour victory came in
the 1975 NBC New Orleans Open. From
1981 through 1989, Casper won nine Senior
PGA (now Champions) Tour events,
including the 1983 U.S. Senior Open and the
1988 Mazda Senior Tournament Players
Over the past decade, Casper has not eased his schedule. He is a regular participant in dozens of charity and corporate events; gives lectures on several worldwide cruise lines; and is an active member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Billy Casper Golf, the company that bears his name, owns and operates nearly 120 golf courses, representing the second largest domestic portfolio.
Casper and his wife, Shirley, live in Springville, Utah. The couple has 11 children (six that they adopted); along with 38 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. ■
THE PGA OF AMERICA