Legendary golfer Billy Casper dies at 83

Billy Casper, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune, St. George News

SPRINGVILLE — Golf legend and 51-time PGA Tour winner Billy Casper died at age 83 Saturday afternoon at his home in Springville with his wife of 62 years, Shirley Casper, at his side.

In response to the news of Casper’s passing, Gov. Gary Herbert sent the following statement:

I am very sad to learn of the passing of my good friend, Billy Casper. The world will remember him as one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game and I will remember him as a great man and a true friend. A man of high standards, he was never shy about his love for Utah or about the important things in life, and he tried to lift people wherever he went. Billy did his best to help me with my golf game and I hope he realized just how much he helped me be a better man. He was a legend in every sense of the word. Jeanette and I offer our best wishes and condolences to Shirley and the entire Casper family.

After suffering from pneumonia following Thanksgiving 2014, Casper spent five weeks in the hospital and then returned home, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Casper was undergoing rehabilitation, but on Thursday, he weakened.

Casper leaves his footprint in Southern Utah with the Billy Casper Golf Academy that he founded at The Ledges in St. George.

Business partner and director of instruction at Billy Casper Golf Academy, Nick McKinlay, said Casper was one of the neatest and most unselfish gentlemen he has ever known — a genuine, unique athlete.

“I remember last year we were at the Parade of Homes and he sat there for 11 days straight,” McKinlay said. “I don’t remember him taking a lunch break or even a bathroom break. He just sat there and talked to people and took pictures. He just thrived on talking to people. After traveling or returning from a trip he would say, ‘I just met the most amazing person on the airplane.'”

According to the PGA TOUR Website, between 1956 and 1975, Casper won 51 PGA TOUR titles — including three major championships. Casper was also known for his putting and has a recorded 24 career holes-in-one.

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