Tom Weiskopf's golf skill went far beyond his 16 victories on the PGA Tour and his lone major at Troon in the Open Championship. He was always candid, often outspoken and unfailingly accurate in the television booth. He found even greater success designing golf courses.
Weiskopf died Saturday at his home in Big Sky, Montana, at the age of 79, his wife said. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2020.
Laurie Weiskopf said Tom was working last week at The Club at Spanish Peaks and attended a legacy luncheon at the signature club where he was designing "The Legacy: Tom's Ten," a collection of his 10 favorite par 3s.
"He worked to the end. It was amazing," she said. "He had a big life."
The son of a railroad worker in Ohio, Weiskopf once said he fell in love with the game before he even began to play. His father took him to the 1957 U.S. Open at Inverness, and he was mesmerized watching Sam Snead make such pure contact.
"You had dinner with Tom and loved every minute of it," Andy North said Sunday. "The sad thing that gets lost is how good he was. Every time he hit a shot, it was beautiful."
Pure contact was his hallmark at Ohio State and then during his career on tour. At 6-foot-3 -- tall for golf in that era -- Weiskopf had a swing that was powerful and rhythmic, natural and athletic. His best year was in 1973, when he won seven times around the world, including the Claret Jug and the World Series of Golf at Firestone before it was an official tour event.
He was known equally for the majors he didn't win and the competition he faced -- particularly Jack Nicklaus, the star from Ohio who preceded him by a few years on tour and cast an enormous shadow over Weiskopf for his entire career.
Weiskopf had four runner-up finishes in the Masters, the most of any player without having won the green jacket. Most memorable was in 1975, when Weiskopf and Johnny Miller stood on the 16th tee as they watched Nicklaus hole a 40-foot birdie putt up the slope that carried him to another victory.
He was famous for saying of Nicklaus: "Jack knew he was going to beat you. You knew Jack was going to beat you. And Jack knew you knew he was going to beat you."
More telling was his interview with Golf Digest in 2008 when Weiskopf said: "Going head-to-head against Jack Nicklaus in a major was like trying to drain the Pacific Ocean with a teacup. You stand on the first tee knowing that your very best golf might not be good enough."
Weiskopf was plenty good in so many areas, and yet he often said he didn't make the most out of his talent. He attributed much of that to drinking, which he once said ruined his golf career. He gave up alcohol in 2000 and considered that one of his great victories.
Nicklaus once said of him, "Tom Weiskopf had as much talent as any player I've ever seen play the tour."
He also said he was never passionate enough about golf. His love was the outdoors, particularly hunting and fishing. Weiskopf once skipped the 1977 Ryder Cup so he could go sheep hunting.
His free spirit and unfiltered thoughts were a big part of his personality. His temper led to nicknames like the "Towering Inferno" and "Terrible Tom." So much of it was traced to his high standards when it came to golf.
"I could not accept failure when it was my fault," he said after winning the U.S. Senior Open in 1995 at Congressional. "It just used to tear me up."
Weiskopf's last PGA Tour victory was the 1982 Western Open. His last full year on the PGA Tour was a year later. He played on the PGA Tour Champions, and perhaps it was only fitting his lone major was the Senior Open by 4 shots over Nicklaus.
His commentary on TV for CBS at the Masters and for ABC/ESPN was all about candor.
He was working the 1986 Masters when Nicklaus was charging his way to victory at age 46. Nicklaus was on the 16th tee when CBS host Jim Nantz brought in Weiskopf and asked, "What is going through Jack's mind right now?"
"If I knew the way he thought, I would have won this championship," Weiskopf replied with a laugh.
Weiskopf partnered with golf course architect Jay Moorish, and their first collaboration was Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, which Golf Digest rated as the best new course of 1986. He did 25 courses with Moorish and then worked with Phil Smith.
Among 80 courses Weiskopf designed were Loch Lomond in Scotland and in 2016 a renovation of the North Course at Torrey Pines that fit his standard -- challenging at the highest level, enjoyable for all.
A standard of his design is the drivable par 4. The inspiration came from playing the Old Course at St. Andrews, where he could drive four of the par 4s, depending on the wind.
Weiskopf summed up his contributions to golf last summer to Golf Digest.
"Golf, to me, was always such a great challenge of the mind, and there were times I wish I had handled that challenge a little better," he said. "But I love the game. I love talking about it and thinking about it and to me it is endlessly fascinating."
Will Zalatoris got his first PGA Tour at the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship in just the way you thought he would, and maybe another way you never thought he would.
Long regarded for his ball-striking, Zalatoris surprised no one in leading the field in strokes gained approach the green. But in a bit of a surprise, Zalatoris posted his best strokes gained putting of any tournament all year.
Zalatoris gained more than eight strokes on the field with his iron play with his Titleist T100 irons and Titleist Vokey Design wedges. Both of course were aided by his new 8-degree Titleist TSR3 driver. For the week Zalatoris was third in driving distance with an average of 321.2 yards, and he gained almost 10 strokes on the field from tee to green. His best might have been his shortest full swing, the Titleist Vokey Design Wedge Works 60-degree wedge from the drop area on the third and final playoff hole to edge Sepp Straka.
But it was the putter, an oversized Scotty Cameron T-11 armlock style mallet, that carried Zalatoris home to his first title since he won the TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020. Zalatoris finished in the top 10 in putts per green in regulation, and his 1.88 strokes gained putting was his highest of the year and only the third time he was over +1.00 strokes gained.
None of those putts were bigger than the putts he made for saves on the 72nd, 73rd and 74th holes. After losing two heartbreaking playoffs this season, now Zalatoris is a PGA Tour winner.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The last five weeks feels like three months to 20-year-old Joohyung "Tom" Kim, and for good reason. The South Korean kid who named himself after a cartoon train is on the fast track.
He got a rare PGA Tour start in the Scottish Open because of his standing on a Korean tour points list, hopeful of doing well enough to get a shot at the Korn Ferry Tour finals.
Now he's a PGA Tour winner who is No. 21 in the world and headed to the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he can probably count on a spot with the International team at the Presidents Cup.
All aboard with Tom the Train!
"It's been a crazy month," Kim said.
He announced his arrival on the PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship, where he began the tournament with a quadruple-bogey 8 and finished it with a 9-under 61 for a five-shot victory.
"I'm really, really happy for Tom," said Sungjae Im, who completed the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning with a one-shot lead and couldn't keep up with Kim, because no one could. Kim shot 27 on the front nine that left everyone in his wake.
"He's a great kid and to come out here and to win on tour as a nonmember and secure your card is really not an easy task and he achieved that," Im said.
Kim, who turned 20 in June, is the second-youngest winner on the PGA Tour since World War II. Jordan Spieth was two weeks away from turning 20 when he won the 2013 John Deere Classic.
The victory gave Kim instant membership on the PGA Tour, making him eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs that start next week. He is No. 34, assured of playing two postseason events and with a reasonable shot at getting to the finale at East Lake.
Im had a 68 and tied for second along with John Huh (67).
Kim spent his developmental years in the Philippines and in Australia. He already had won three times on the Asian Development Tour and once in Korea before making his American debut at age 18 in the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park.
As for the name? As a young boy, he was a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine in the TV series "Thomas & Friends."
"You're supposed to let your parents name yourself and I was like, 'Nope, I'm to name myself Thomas.' I loved the show as a kid. I haven't watched it or anything, but apparently I really loved the train."
The other option -- he was a big "Toy Story" fan -- would have been Buzz Lightyear. That would have worked. The kid is creating quite the buzz, and he's light years ahead of others his age.
Only Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia were younger when they reached as high as No. 21 in the world ranking.
Kim finished third in the Scottish Open, the first time it was co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour, and his goal was to get enough FedEx Cup points to finish equal to the top 200 so he could earn his card through a series of Korn Ferry Tour events late in the summer.
He earned special temporary PGA Tour membership when he made the cut at the British Open. He secured a PGA Tour card last week with a seventh-place finish in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The stress gone, not even an opening quadruple bogey rattled him.
"It's been a five-week stretch for me, but it feels like three months," Kim said. "Yeah, it's been a hectic month and a lot of things have changed, for sure."
He finished at 20-under 260.
It was plenty stressful for others, even those who weren't playing.
The heartbreak belonged to Justin Lower, who was poised to move into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup to reach the postseason and secure a full card for next season.
But on the final hole, Lower hit his 60-foot birdie putt a little too firm. That left him a 6-foot par putt that would have put him inside the top 125. He missed it to the right and was wiping away tears as he walked off the green.
"I don't really know what I'm thinking. It sucks to come up this short," Lower said. "Obviously had some help with the LIV guys and whatnot -- I don't even know if I'm allowed to say that. But I don't know. There's positives. But right now, it just flat out sucks."
The tour has suspended players who signed on with Saudi-funded LIV Golf, and they did not count toward the top 125 in the FedEx Cup. Lower was the equivalent of No. 128 going into the final event of the regular season.
Rickie Fowler looked to be out of luck when he missed the cut on Friday at No. 123. But enough players faded on the weekend that Fowler gets to extend his season for at least another week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship next week.
With two wins in a seven-day span, Tony Finau racked up nearly $3 million
in prize money. It's not quite winning Friday's Mega Millions drawing, but it'll do. Especially considering that's just a fraction of Finau's career earnings.
In fact, Finau passed an impressive PGA Tour earnings milestone thanks to his wins at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic. Those first-place checks moved him over $30 million for his career.
After earning $1.512 million in Detroit, Finau is up to $30,927,102, which puts him No. 41 on the all-time list. Finau lept over Xander Schauffele (for now), Stuart Appleby, Geoff Ogilvy, Hunter Mahan, and Bill Haas with Sunday's victory.
That figure, however, doesn't include FedEx Cup bonuses. So Finau still trails Haas, who won the $10 million bonus back in 2011.
Tiger Woods is the PGA Tour's all-time leading earner with $120,895,206. There's a big drop to Phil Mickelson in second at $94,955,060, and then another big drop to No. 3 Jim Furyk at $71,507,269.
Finau earned his first PGA Tour check ($7,960 for a T-70) at the 2007 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee shortly after turning pro at 17. But he didn't cash another PGA Tour check until becoming a full-time tour member for the 2014-2015 season.
With more than $5.5 million in earnings during the 2021-2022 campaign, this marks the third season Finau has gone over $5 million. But considering his red-hot form and the big-money playoff events coming up, he's got his eyes on a much (much) higher number.