Remembering Tom Weiskopf: How Did That Final Putt at the 1975 Masters Miss? And More

I WILL REMEMBER TOM WEISKOPF like many others: supremely talented with a beautiful golf swing. A nearly great PGA Tour player and Open champion also seen as an underachiever.

Back in the 1970s it was unusual to see a man of Weiskopf’s size (6 foot 3 inches) exhibit such an impressive combination of power and grace. In my memory, there was no one quite like him (tall, smooth and strong) until Ernie Els came along.

Weiskopf struggled with his temperament and putting. I remember the moniker “Terrible Tom.”

As a teen, I liked Tom Weiskopf, although not as much as Johnny Miller. One of the best tournaments I ever watched on TV was the 1975 Masters, a duel between Weiskopf, Miller and Jack Nicklaus. I still have a hard time believing that Weiskopf’s birdie putt at the last hole to tie Nicklaus burned the right edge. It still seems as if it should have broken slightly left and dropped into the cup.

But the golf gods apparently disagreed.

Weiskopf had a grumpy public persona, but, from what I’ve read, players and others who knew him liked or loved him. I’m sure I would have enjoyed his company, although I never had a chance or a reason to interview him.

Tony Jacklin, who I did get to know while writing my 1969 Ryder Cup book, was treated as a friend and practice partner by Weiskopf when Jacklin joined the PGA Tour in the late 1960s. It was a different time, when “foreign” players like Jacklin were not welcomed on the tour, as Frank Beard and others told me. But Weiskopf was not like the others.

As I wrote in Draw in the Dunes, “Jacklin became friends with U.S. players Tom Weiskopf and Bert Yancey, and the three young pros put in long hours working on their games. ‘We were all trying to become better players,’ [Jacklin said]. ‘It started to pay off for me.'”

Finally, here’s what Jacklin said the other day after Weiskopf passed away.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

1 thought on “Remembering Tom Weiskopf: How Did That Final Putt at the 1975 Masters Miss? And More”

  1. I grew up around the same era as you and I also remember that US Masters from 1975, with Nicklaus, Weiskopf, and Johnny Miller fighting it out down the stretch, until that epic long putt by Nicklaus on the 16th gave him the crucial advantage. Tony Jacklin was my idol and I loved Johnny Miller too, and I loved Weiskopf's swing.

    I remember the winning streak Weiskopf went on in 1973 which culminated in him winning the Open at Troon. It was well deserved. You are right about Ernie Els being in the same mould but I would add Vijay Singh to that. I think Vijay himself said he modelled his own swing on Weiskopf.

    After he quit competing, Weiskopf made a very big contribution to golf course architecture and golf club management also. His legacy will live on long after his passing.

    Reply

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