Professional golf legend Billy Casper died yesterday at 4:45 p.m. MT of a heart attack at the age of 83 surrounded by family at home outside Salt Lake City, Utah.
Focusing on golf, Casper attended the University of Notre Dame on a golf scholarship in 1950. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving until 1955 and playing on its golf team.
A 2-time U.S. Open winner (Winged Foot, 1959; Olympic Club, 1966) and Masters champion (1970), Casper's PGA TOUR record is one of the most prolific. His 51 victories are surpassed by only a select few and he won at least one tournament in 16 consecutive years (1956-1971). Casper won 9 times on the Senior PGA TOUR, including the U.S. Senior Open (Hazeltine, 1983).
Commonly referred to as “the best putter on the planet,” he played on 8 consecutive Ryder Cup teams amassing more points (23.5) than any other American. He won the Vardon Trophy five times and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 and the PGA Hall of Fame in 1982. Sports Illustrated named Casper one of the Top 20 players in the history of golf.
During his heyday, Casper toured Asia in support of American troops. He also played golf with several U.S. presidents as well as kings, princes and other royalty and dignitaries worldwide. Playing in the Hassan II Golf Trophy in Morocco at the invitation of the king for more than three decades, Casper was proclaimed the country’s official golf ambassador, helping spur significant growth of the game among juniors.
Casper’s extended family includes more than 7,600 employees of Billy Casper Golf, founded more than 20 years ago. The company is the largest owner-operator of golf courses, country clubs and resorts in the U.S.