The golf world lost a legendary player and man this month with the passing of Billy Casper on February 7, 2015 at his home in Springville, Utah at the age of 83.
Casper, the 1996 Memorial Tournament Honoree, was one of the most underrated stars in golf history. Between 1956 and 1975, Casper won 51 times on the PGA TOUR, a figure surpassed by only six other players: 1984 Memorial Tournament Honoree Sam Snead (82), five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods(79), Tournament Founder and Host Jack Nicklaus (73), 1999 Tournament Honoree Ben Hogan (64), 1993 Honoree Arnold Palmer (62), and 1980 Memorial Honoree Byron Nelson (52). Casper won three major championships during his career, two U.S. Opens and a Masters. He was a member of eight Ryder Cup teams, winning more points, 23.5, than any other American player. He won the Vardon Trophy five times, a record matched only by Lee Trevino, and was the PGA TOUR Player of the Year in 1966 and 1970.
Nicklaus remembers his good friend:
“Billy Casper was one of the greatest family men—be it inside the game of golf or out—I have had the fortunate blessing to meet,” said Nicklaus. “He had such a wonderful balance to his life. Golf was never the most important thing in Billy’s life—family was. There was always much more to Billy Casper than golf. But as a golfer, Billy was a fantastic player, and I don’t think he gets enough credit for being one. I have said many times that during my career, when I looked up at a leaderboard, I wasn’t just looking to see where a Palmer or a Player or a Trevino was. I was also checking to see where Billy Casper was. Billy had tremendous confidence. He just believed in himself. You knew when you played against Billy Casper, Billy would not beat himself. You want to talk about someone who could perform under pressure, if you wanted someone to get up and-down for you; Billy Casper was your man. I think it is fair to say that Billy was probably under-rated by those who didn’t play against him. Those who did compete against him, knew how special he was.”
“More important than what Billy Casper gave us inside the ropes, he has been so selfless outside them. He has always been so steadfast and committed to his family, his religion, his community, and his unwavering beliefs. And he never asked for anything in return. It was not even a year ago, someone asked Billy how he wanted to remembered, and he said, ‘I want to be remembered for how I loved my fellow man.’
“Over the last 15 to 20 years, my friendship with Billy blossomed. We had a number of common threads, but the one that truly connected us was our love of family and those shared values. It was a genuine treat every time I saw Billy and that smile on his face. Because I knew I was about to talk to a dear friend.”
For more about Billy Casper, click here to visit his Memorial Tournament Honoree page.