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PGA Legend Tom Weiskopf Dies Aged 79

Tom Weiskopf, a former PGA Tour player, died on Saturday at 79 in Big Sky, Montana. Weiskopf had been working until his death despite fighting pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in 2020.

His wife Laurie said that last week while working at The Club at Spanish Peaks, he attended a legacy luncheon at the exclusive club where he is creating “The Legacy: Tom’s Ten,” a compilation of his 10 favourite par-3 holes.

Weiskopf was renowned for his incredible ball-striking skills, and his swing was thought to be among the game’s most graceful. However, despite his highly regarded game, he was also well known for having a temper, earning him the moniker ‘The Towering Inferno’.

The American became a professional in 1964, and between 1968 and 1982, he won 16 times on the Tour. He was most well-known, though, for his stellar performance in the majors.

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Weiskopf had 20 more top 10 results, including five as runners-up. His only victory at a Major was in 1973 at the Open at Royal Troon, where he finished three clear of both Johnny Miller and Neil Coles.

Weiskopf comes from a golfing era when some of the most iconic and loved players in the game’s history, such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson, were involved, so managing such a credible record was no easy task.

Weiskopf started playing on the Senior PGA Tour in 1993, where he had further success, winning the US Senior Open in 1995.

Let’s pay homage to Tom Weiskopf’s incredible career in more detail:

With 16 victories and a British Open championship under his belt, Tom Weiskopf had one of the finest swings of his time. However, almost everyone agreed, including Weiskopf, that his career ought to have been considerably greater.

He had “a golf swing to die for, a combo of grace and power,” according to Golf Digest. But his short fuse and propensity for getting upset so quickly cost him dearly.

Weiskopf’s career was still highly successful, though. He claimed, “I had strength, control, finesse, and some courage.” But unfortunately, he simply lacked the experience on the golf course in the late 1960s and early 1970s to fully utilise those skills.

Weiskopf, born a few years after Jack Nicklaus, played golf in Ohio alongside Nicklaus and won many of the same championships. Like Nicklaus, he went to Ohio State University.

Weiskopf won the Western Amateur in 1963, went pro in 1964, and made his PGA Tour debut in 1965. In 1968, he won his first tour match at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open.

Before giving up full-time touring at 40, Weiskopf had four seasons with numerous victories and reached the third spot on the money list three times.

In 1973, his best year, he won four competitions in 8 weeks, including the Open Championship. That year, he triumphed seven times worldwide.

The Western Open, where Weiskopf won for the last time in 1983, was the same competition where he made his professional debut in 1964.

Ryder Cup

Weiskopf participated in two American Ryder Cup teams and was an enthusiastic big-game hunter. So what connects the two concepts? His most well-known connection to the Ryder Cup is the fact that he turned down a spot on the 1977 squad so that he could go on a hunting trip. (He did participate in the 1973 and 1975 Ryder Cups for Team USA.)

Later, he participated in the Champions Tour, albeit he confessed that he didn’t particularly like it. But he did triumph in the 1995 U.S. Senior Open.

List of Weiskopf’s Tour Wins

Weiskopf’s 16 wins on the PGA Tour, in chronological order:

  • 1968 Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational
  • 1968 Buick Open Invitational
  • 1971 Kemper Open
  • 1971 IVB-Philadelphia Golf Classic
  • 1972 Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic
  • 1973 Colonial National Invitation
  • 1973 Kemper Open
  • 1973 IVB-Philadelphia Golf Classic
  • 1973 The Open Championship
  • 1973 Canadian Open
  • 1975 Greater Greensboro Open
  • 1975 Canadian Open
  • 1977 Kemper Open
  • 1978 Doral-Eastern Open
  • 1981 LaJet Classic
  • 1982 Western Open

Weiskopf had one other win on the European Tour, the 1981 Benson & Hedges International Open.

Weiskopf also won four times on the Champions Tour:

  • 1994 Franklin Quest Championship
  • 1995 U.S. Senior Open
  • 1996 SBC Dominion Seniors
  • 1996 Pittsburgh Senior Classic

Later Years

Late in his career and briefly after, Weiskopf worked as a television analyst with CBS and then went into golf course design, working with Jay Morrish, an established architect.

Although the pair designed many courses together, Weiskopf went on to work independently and had many highly regarded independent designs of his own. His best-known courses include The Ridge at Castle Pines North in Castle Rock, Colorado; Loch Lomond in Scotland; and Troon Golf and Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tom leaves behind his wife Liane, Spanky the dog, and two children from his previous marriage to Jeanne, Eric Weiskopf and Heidi Weiskopf and his two grandchildren, Hunter and Morgan.

RIP Tom Weiskopf (November 9, 1942 – August 20, 2022)

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