Tom Weiskopf, Open champion and 16-time PGA Tour winner, dies at 79


Tom Weiskopf, a 16-time PGA Tour champion and Open Championship victor, passed away this past weekend after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 79.

The winner of the 1973 Claret Jug was a member of the illustrious Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer-Gary Player generation who spent the most of his career in the 1960s and 1970s while the PGA Tour rose to prominence as the world's premier golf league.

A threat at the big championships was Weiskopf. In addition to winning at Royal Troon during his career year of 1973, he also achieved fame for placing second four times in the Masters and finishing in the top 10 in 21 of the 71 major tournaments he competed in. 

His worst performance from the 1973 PGA Championship through the 1974 Masters was a T6.

He was also a danger to himself since he frequently jeopardised his prospects of taking home additional tournaments and major titles due to his inability to maintain composure in the face of extreme hardship. 

Although Weiskopf won several great titles well into his 50s, it was commonly believed that his record was not as impressive as it may have been.

It's one of the possible causes of all those close calls at Augusta National. He was defeated by George Archer by one in 1969. He fell short of Nicklaus by three in 1972. Player defeated him by two in 1974.

Then, in the most renowned tournament of them all in 1975, he tied for second place with Johnny Miller and lost to Nicklaus by one stroke. Weiskopf had a 54-hole lead over Miller and Nicklaus at the Masters. He also held the lead after 15 holes of the final round, but he played the final three holes in 1 over, and he never again came so near to victory.

At a later point in his life, Weiskopf achieved fame for his work on the design of golf courses, working on or building courses at locations including TPC Scottsdale, Olympic Club, Silverleaf Club, Troon North Golf Club, and Yellowstone Club in Montana.

His support for drivable par 4s has always been evident in his work. The 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale is one of the most well-known on the PGA Tour.

His post-playing activities included included broadcasting. After his PGA Tour playing career was done, he made contributions to both CBS and ABC, calling the Masters from 1985 through 1995. He also provided commentary for the Open Championship.

Weiskopf received a cancer diagnosis in December 2020, and at this year's Byron Nelson, which was held at a course he also designed, TPC Craigh Ranch, he spoke about how difficult the previous few years had been and how valiantly he had fought the disease before losing it.

It all comes back to one thing, Weiskopf said. "Giving up is the world's most simple action. No matter how miserable you feel, you have to keep going and move ahead day by day. And just have faith that you'll overcome this in the end."


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