Tom Weiskopf's golf skill went far beyond his 16 victories on the PGA Tour and his lone major at Royal Troon in the British Open. He was always candid, often outspoken, and unfailingly accurate in the television booth. He found even greater success designing golf courses. Weiskopf died Saturday at his home in Big Sky, Montana, at the age of 79, his wife said. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2020, the AP reports. Laurie Weiskopf said her husband was working last week at the Club at Spanish Peaks and attended a legacy luncheon at the signature club where he is designing "The Legacy: Tom's Ten," a collection of his 10 favorite par 3s. "He worked to the end. It was amazing," she said. "He had a big life."
The son of a railroad worker in Ohio, Weiskopf once said he fell in love with the game before he even began to play. His father took him to the 1957 US Open at Inverness, and he was mesmerized watching Sam Snead make such pure contact. “You had dinner with Tom and loved every minute of it," Andy North said Sunday. "The sad thing that gets lost is how good he was. Every time he hit a shot, it was beautiful." Pure contact was his hallmark at Ohio State and then his career on tour. At 6-foot-3—tall for golf in that era—Weiskopf had a swing that was powerful and rhythmic, natural and athletic. His best year was in 1973, when he won seven times around the world, including the claret jug and the World Series of Golf at Firestone before it was an official tour event.
He was known equally for the majors he didn't win and the competition he faced—particularly Jack Nicklaus, who preceded him by a few years on tour and cast an enormous shadow over Weiskopf for his entire career. Weiskopf had four runner-up finishes in the Masters, per the AP, the most of any player without having won the green jacket. Most memorable was in 1975, when Weiskopf and Johnny Miller stood on the 16th tee as they watched Nicklaus hole a 40-foot birdie putt up the slope that carried him to another victory. He was famous for saying of Nicklaus: "Jack knew he was going to beat you. You knew Jack was going to beat you. And Jack knew you knew he was going to beat you."
Weiskopf was plenty good in so many areas—he designed 80 courses, including Loch Lomond in Scotland—yet often said he didn't make the most of his talent. He attributed much of that to drinking, which he said ruined his golf career. He gave up alcohol in 2007 and considered that one of his great victories. Nicklaus once said of him, "Tom Weiskopf had as much talent as any player I've ever seen play the tour." Weiskopf also said he was never passionate enough about golf. His love was the outdoors, particularly hunting and fishing. He once skipped the 1977 Ryder Cup so he could go sheep hunting. His free spirit and unfiltered thoughts were a big part of his personality, as was his temper. "I could not accept failure when it was my fault," Weiskopf said after winning the US Senior Open in 1995 at Congressional. "It just used to tear me up."
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