Open champion, course designer, golf commentator Tom Weiskopf dies, age 79

Tributes are flowing across the golf world for the 1973 Open champion Tom Weiskopf who died over the weekend after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Golf Channel produced this moving piece on Weiskopf’s journey from Open Champion to golf course designer and commentator.

Weiskopf was a divisive character who spoke his mind. Geoff Shackelford suggested it may be why Weiskopf was never inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Along with work in golf architecture and a memorable run as a broadcaster at the Masters, this would be the place where I reference to his World Golf Hall of Fame induction. But the Ohio native, known as “Terrible Tom” in his more temperamental years, was on the wrong side of someone important. I’m picturing a little man almost a foot shorter than him. Ironically, a strong case could be made that Weiskopf’s omission is a driving force in the Hall’s diminishing stature.

John Huggan’s tribute at Golf Australia Magazine is a must-read recalling Weiskopf’s frequent losing battles with Jack Nicklaus and his famous quote while commentating on the 1986 Masters.

Indeed, two of Weiskopf’s most-quoted utterances concerned Nicklaus. The most famous always raised a rueful smile: “When you played Jack, he knew he was going to beat you. You knew he was going to beat you. And he knew that you knew he was going to beat you.”

Then there was the time the Golden Bear stood on the 16th tee during the final round of the 1986 Masters he would go on to win, Weiskopf, in his role as a CBS commentator, was asked what was going through his old friend’s mind.

“If I knew that, I would have won this tournament,” said the four-time Masters runner-up.

And I urge you all to read this dramatic story from Weiskopf that Guy Yocom recounted at Golf Digest.

He began screaming but stopped when he realized it was 5:30 a.m., and the nearest soul was half a mile away and fast asleep. Some workers would arrive in two hours—on the front nine, out of earshot. Weiskopf panicked some more and fought harder. He was in almost up to his armpits. Suddenly he began to calm down. He noticed that when he let his body go limp and motionless, he stopped sinking. Take your time, he told himself. Think.

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