Tom Weiskopf, the Champion Golfer of the Year in 1973, has passed away at the age of 79.
The respected American won his only major championship when he lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Troon and went on to achieve 28 professional wins in an impressive career.
Indeed, Weiskopf’s most successful decade was the 1970s, winning 16 PGA Tour titles between 1968 and 1982. At the end of 1973, he was ranked the second-best player in the world.
Born in Massillion, Ohio in 1942, Weiskopf's first win on the PGA Tour came at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational in 1968.
His swing was much admired in the golf world as he hit the ball high, generated enormous power and had very good control as well, a rare combination.
While his occasional temper earned him the nickname of ‘The Towering Inferno’, Weiskopf kept his cool at Troon in 1973 to achieve his greatest feat in the game in imperious style.
Weiskopf won The Open by three strokes over runners-up Neil Coles from England and American Johnny Miller, the winner of the US Open a month earlier. Jack Nicklaus was fourth a shot further back.
Notably, Weiskopf was a wire-to-wire winner and his four-round total of 12-under-par 276 matched the then-existing Open record set by Arnold Palmer on the very same course in 1962.
“To win my first major championship in the country where golf started is something you can’t explain,” he said in his winner’s speech. “It’s the most inspirational place I’ve ever played golf and I’m very proud to be your Champion.”
Such was his ability, Weiskopf came close to winning other majors. He was a runner-up four times in the Masters Tournament (sharing that record with Nicklaus and Ben Hogan), had five top-four finishes at the US Open and four top-eights at the PGA Championship.
He also tied seventh in The Open in 1972 at Muirfield and in 1974 at Royal Lytham & St Annes, with further joy on British soil coming when he won the Benson & Hedges International Open in 1981 at Fulford.
Weiskopf also won the Canadian Open in 1973 and 1975 and was a member of the victorious United States team in the Ryder Cup in both those years.
Weiskopf joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1993 and won several senior tournaments, including one senior major, the 1995 US Senior Open, beating Nicklaus by four strokes.
After winding down his tournament career, Weiskopf become a noted golf course architect as well as working in broadcasting. He has at least 40 courses to his credit in many parts of the world.