Gene Littler

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Gene Littler
— Golfer —
Personal information
Full nameGene Alec Littler
Born(1930-07-21) July 21, 1930 (age 83)
San Diego, California
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)
Nationality United States
ResidenceRancho Santa Fe, California
Career
CollegeSan Diego State University
Turned professional1954
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Champions Tour
Professional wins50
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour29
Japan Golf Tour2
Champions Tour8
Other11
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 2)
Masters Tournament2nd: 1970
U.S. OpenWon: 1961
The Open ChampionshipT18: 1974
PGA Championship2nd: 1977
U.S. AmateurWon: 1953
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1990 (member page)
Bob Jones Award1973
 
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Gene Littler
— Golfer —
Personal information
Full nameGene Alec Littler
Born(1930-07-21) July 21, 1930 (age 83)
San Diego, California
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)
Nationality United States
ResidenceRancho Santa Fe, California
Career
CollegeSan Diego State University
Turned professional1954
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Champions Tour
Professional wins50
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour29
Japan Golf Tour2
Champions Tour8
Other11
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 2)
Masters Tournament2nd: 1970
U.S. OpenWon: 1961
The Open ChampionshipT18: 1974
PGA Championship2nd: 1977
U.S. AmateurWon: 1953
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1990 (member page)
Bob Jones Award1973

Gene Alec Littler (born July 21, 1930) is an American professional golfer and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.[1] Known for a solid temperament and nicknamed "Gene the Machine" for his smooth rhythmical swing,[1] he once said that, "Golf is not a game of great shots. It's a game of the best misses. The people who win make the smallest mistakes."

Early years and amateur career[edit]

Littler was born in San Diego, California. He played on the 1953 United States Walker Cup team, and won the U.S. Amateur and the California State Amateur that same year.[1] In 1954, he won a PGA Tour event as an amateur, a rare achievement which was not to be repeated until Doug Sanders won the Canadian Open in 1956.

Littler graduated from San Diego State University. He also served in the United States Navy before turning pro in the spring of 1954.

Professional career[edit]

An early highlight of Littler's professional playing career was a second-place finish at the 1954 U.S. Open. He finished one shot behind Ed Furgol.

In 1955, he won four times on the tour, but fell into a slump in the late 1950s after tinkering with his swing. After taking advice from Paul Runyan and adjusting his grip,[2] he recovered in 1959 to have his best year with five PGA Tour victories. He finished second on the money list that year, which was to remain his career best. Only once from 1954 to 1979 did Littler finish out of the top 60 on the final money list. He was stricken with melanoma cancer found in a lymph node under his left arm in 1972,[1] but came back to win five more times on the PGA Tour. He ended his career with 29 PGA Tour wins, and also won two tournaments in Japan and one in Australia.

One of Littler's 29 PGA Tour wins was unique. When he won the 1975 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, it marked the first and (so far) only time that a player won that event as a professional after having previously won the pro-amateur portion, which Littler did as a 23-year-old amateur in 1954.[3]

Littler won one major championship – the 1961 U.S. Open. He shot a 68 in the final round to overtake Doug Sanders. He accumulated 17 top-10 finishes in the three U.S.-based majors: seven at the Masters Tournament, five at the PGA Championship, and five at the U.S. Open. In addition to his U.S. Open victory, he had one second-place finish in each of the three U.S. majors, losing playoffs to Billy Casper at the 1970 Masters and to Lanny Wadkins at the 1977 PGA Championship. The latter was the first ever sudden-death playoff in a major. He was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup teams of 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971 and 1975, and had a 14-5-8 win/loss/tie record including five wins and three ties in 10 singles matches.

Littler received the Ben Hogan Award in 1973 for a courageous comeback from injury or illness, after returning to the tour following treatment for malignant melanoma. Also in 1973, he was given the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. In the 1980s and 1990s Littler played on the Senior PGA Tour, winning eight times. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.[1]

Professional wins[edit]

PGA Tour wins (29)[edit]

No.DateTournamentWinning scoreMargin of
victory
Runner(s)-up
1Jan 21, 1954San Diego Open
(as an amateur)
−14 (67-66-69-72=274)4 strokesUnited States Dutch Harrison
2Jan 10, 1955Los Angeles Open−8 (72-67-68-69=276)2 strokesUnited States Ted Kroll
3Feb 7, 1955Phoenix Open−5 (66-70-68-71=275)1 strokeUnited States Billy Maxwell, United States Arnold Palmer
4May 1, 1955Tournament of Champions−8 (69-71-68-72=280)13 strokesUnited States Jerry Barber, United States Pete Cooper,
United States Bob Toski
5Aug 26, 1955Labatt Open−8 (67-69-68-68=272)PlayoffCanada Stan Leonard
6Feb 19, 1956Texas Open Invitational−12 (68-73-70-65=276)2 strokeUnited States Mike Fetchick, United States Frank Stranahan,
United States Ernie Vossler
7Apr 29, 1956Tournament of Champions−7 (70-71-69-71=281)4 strokesUnited States Cary Middlecoff
8Jun 10, 1956Palm Beach Round Robin+55 pts (69-69-68-68-70=344)24 pointsUnited States Ted Kroll
9May 31, 1957Tournament of Champions−3 (73-73-69-70=285)3 strokesUnited States Billy Casper, United States Jimmy Demaret,
United States Dow Finsterwald, United States Billy Maxwell
10Feb 8, 1959Phoenix Open Invitational−12 (67-63-67-71=268)1 strokeUnited States Art Wall, Jr.
11Feb 15, 1959Tucson Open Invitational−14 (65-67-68-66=266)1 strokeUnited States Joe Campbell, United States Art Wall, Jr.
12May 17, 1959Arlington Hotel Open−18 (67-69-64-70=270)1 strokeUnited States Jim Ferree
13Jul 19, 1959Insurance City Open Invitational−12 (64-66-72-70=272)1 strokeUnited States Tom Nieporte
14Aug 30, 1959Miller Open Invitational−15 (68-66-64-67=265)1 strokeUnited States Bob Rosburg, United States Bo Wininger
15Jun 12, 1960Oklahoma City Open Invitational−11 (71-64-70-68=273)1 strokeUnited States Art Wall, Jr.
16Jul 31, 1960Eastern Open Invitational−15 (65-68-73-67=273)2 strokesSouth Africa Gary Player
17Jun 17, 1961U.S. Open+1 (73-68-72-68=281)1 strokeUnited States Bob Goalby, United States Doug Sanders
18Jan 28, 1962Lucky International Open−10 (65-68-68-73=274)2 strokesCanada George Knudson
19Jun 10, 1962Thunderbird Classic Invitational−9 (67-71-70-67=275)2 strokesUnited States Jack Nicklaus
20Jul 17, 1965Canadian Open−7 (70-68-69-66=273)1 strokeUnited States Jack Nicklaus
21Feb 16, 1969Phoenix Open Invitational−21 (69-66-62-66=263)2 strokesUnited States Miller Barber, United States Don January,
United States Billy Maxwell
22Apr 6, 1969Greater Greensboro Open−10 (66-70-69-69=274)PlayoffUnited States Julius Boros, United States Orville Moody,
United States Tom Weiskopf
23Apr 18, 1971Monsanto Open−8 (71-67-71-67=276)3 strokesUnited States George Archer, United States Pete Brown
24May 23, 1971Colonial National Invitation+3 (72-68-74-69=283)1 strokeUnited States Bert Yancey
25Jul 22, 1973St. Louis Children's Hospital Golf Classic−12 (66-66-68-68=268)1 strokeAustralia Bruce Crampton
26Jan 26, 1975Bing Crosby National Pro-Am−8 (68-71-68-73=280)4 strokesUnited States Hubert Green
27May 25, 1975Danny Thomas Memphis Classic−18 (67-68-69-66=270)5 strokesUnited States John Mahaffey
28Aug 3, 1975Westchester Classic−17 (68-68-69-66=271)PlayoffUnited States Julius Boros
29May 1, 1977Houston Open−12 (70-65-67-74=276)3 strokesUnited States Lanny Wadkins

Source[4]

PGA Tour playoff record (3–8)

No.YearTournamentOpponent(s)Result
11955Labatt OpenCanada Stan LeonardWon with par on first playoff hole
21956Texas International OpenUnited States Cary Middlecoff, Australia Peter ThomsonThomson won with birdie on second extra hole
31957Western OpenUnited States George Bayer, United States Doug Ford,
United States Billy Maxwell
Ford won with par on third extra hole
Littler and Maxwell eliminated with par on first extra hole
41960Memphis Open InvitationalUnited States Tommy Bolt, United States Ben HoganLost an 18-hole playoff (Bolt:68, Hogan:69, Littler:71)
51962Memphis Open InvitationalUnited States Lionel Hebert, South Africa Gary PlayerHebert won with birdie on first extra hole
61966Tucson OpenUnited States Joe CampbellLost to birdie on first extra hole
71969Greater Greensboro OpenUnited States Julius Boros, United States Orville Moody,
United States Tom Weiskopf
Littler won with birdie on fifth extra hole
Weiskopf eliminated with par on first hole
81970Masters TournamentUnited States Billy CasperLost an 18-hole playoff (Casper:69, Littler:74)
91975Westchester ClassicUnited States Julius BorosWon with par on first extra hole
101977Tucson OpenUnited States Bruce LietzkeLost to birdie on fourth extra hole
111977PGA ChampionshipUnited States Lanny WadkinsLost to par on third extra hole

Major championship is shown in bold.

Japan Golf Tour wins (2)[edit]

Other wins (1)[edit]

this list may be incomplete

Champions Tour wins (8)[edit]

No.DateTournamentWinning scoreMargin of
victory
Runner(s)-up
1Mar 20, 1983Greater Daytona Senior Classic−13 (65-70-68=203)6 strokesEngland Guy Wolstenholme
2Jul 10, 1983Greater Syracuse Senior's Pro Classic−9 (69-69-70-67=275)2 strokesUnited States Don January
3Jan 4, 1984Seiko-Tucson Senior Match Play Championship1 upUnited States Don January
4May 4, 1986Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Golf Classic−14 (65-66-71=202)2 strokesUnited States Don January
5Aug 31, 1986Bank One Senior Golf Classic−12 (71-63-67=201)PlayoffUnited States Miller Barber, United States Bob Goalby
6Aug 2, 1987NYNEX/Golf Digest Commemorative−10 (67-68-65=200)1 strokeUnited States Dale Douglass
7Nov 22, 1987Gus Machado Senior Classic−6 (71-67-69=207)3 strokesUnited States Orville Moody
8Feb 26, 1989Aetna Challenge−7 (70-70-69=209)2 strokesSouth Africa Harold Henning

Champions Tour playoff record (1–2)

No.YearTournamentOpponent(s)Result
11981Peter Jackson ChampionsUnited States Miller BarberLost to par on first extra hole
21986Greater Grand Rapids OpenUnited States Jim Ferree, United States Chi-Chi RodríguezFerree won with birdie on first extra hole
31986Bank One Senior Golf ClassicUnited States Miller Barber, United States Bob GoalbyLittler won with par on third extra hole
Goalby eliminated with par on first hole

Other senior wins (10)[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Wins (1)[edit]

YearChampionship54 holesWinning scoreMarginRunners-up
1961U.S. Open3 shot deficit+1 (73-68-72-68=281)1 strokeUnited States Bob Goalby, United States Doug Sanders

Amateur wins (1)[edit]

YearChampionshipWinning scoreRunner-up
1953U.S. Amateur1 upUnited States Dale Morey

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament1950195119521953195419551956195719581959
Masters TournamentDNPDNPDNPDNPT22T22T12CUT42T8
U.S. OpenDNPDNPDNPDNP215T34T324T11
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPR64DNPT10
U.S. AmateurR64DNPQF1------
Tournament1960196119621963196419651966196719681969
Masters TournamentCUTT154T24T13T6T44T26T43T8
U.S. OpenCUT1T8T21T11T8T48CUTDNPCUT
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPCUTDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipT18T5T23T34T33T28T3T7T30T48
Tournament1970197119721973197419751976197719781979
Masters Tournament2T4DNPT17T39T22T12T8T24T10
U.S. OpenT12T37DNPT18CUTT49T50DNPT35CUT
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPT18CUTT32DNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipT4T75DNPCUTT28T7T222CUTT16
Tournament1980198119821983
Masters Tournament49DNPDNPDNP
U.S. OpenT38DNPT22DNP
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipCUTCUTT49CUT

DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

Source for U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur: USGA Championship Database

Summary[edit]

TournamentWins2nd3rdTop-5Top-10Top-25EventsCuts made
Masters Tournament01038182624
U.S. Open11035122520
The Open Championship00000142
PGA Championship01147112520
Totals1311020428066

U.S. national team appearances[edit]

Amateur

Professional

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "World Golf Hall of Fame profile". Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ Kelley, Brent. "Gene Littler profile". About.com. Retrieved August 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ Shain, Jeff (February 1, 2013). "AT&T Pebble Beach – First Look". PGA Tour. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ Barkow, Al (November 1989). The History of the PGA TOUR. Copyright PGA Tour. Doubleday. p. 264. ISBN 0-385-26145-4. 

External links[edit]