Bill Casper’s win at the 1970 Masters golf tournament

The 1970 Masters golf tournament took place from April 9 to April 13 at Augusta National Golf Club. It was the 34th Masters Tournament, and 83 players entered the tournament. The field would eventually be narrowed down to 48 as 35 couldn’t make the cut at six-over-par (150). Billy Casper ended up winning the tournament.

The 1970 Masters would be the last Masters tournament that Henry Picard would register for. Picard was a leading PGA Tour player in the 1930s and won the fifth ever Masters tournament in 1938. He would withdraw from the 1970 tournament without finishing the first round.

Jack Nicklaus finished in eighth place in the tournament. The loss was part of his a rough stretch for Nicklaus, who had won seven majors going into the tournament including three Masters. His last major championship prior to the 1970 Masters was the 1967 U.S. Open and he did not win another major championship until the 1970 Open Championship.

Nicklaus wasn’t the only three-time Masters champion in the 1970 Masters. Sam Snead, who had won the tournament in 1949, 1952 and 1954, played in the tournament as a 68-year-old. He would finish in a tie for 23rd place.

Tom Watson made his Masters debut at the 1970 tournament. He played in the tournament as an amateur. He would end up missing the cut by three strokes. Watson would go on to win the Masters in 1977 and in 1981. He remains a solid competitor to this date as evidenced by his second place finish at the 2009 Open Championship as a 60-year-old.

Billy Casper and Gene Littler had a long history together. They were both born in San Diego almost exactly one year apart and grew up playing junior and amateur golf together. Consequently, they ended up becoming lifelong friends.

Casper and Littler had to put their friendship aside in the 1970 Masters tournament. The fourth round ended with the two future World Golf Hall of Famers tied at -9. They played each other in an 18-hole playoff. Casper got the better of Littler in the playoff by shooting a 69 to Littler’s 74. It was Casper’s first and only win at the Masters and his third and final major championship for his career. It was also his 45th win on the PGA Tour. He would go on to win six more PGA tournaments before retiring.

This wouldn’t be the last playoff for Littler at a major championship. Seven years later, he would enter a sudden-death playoff against Lanny Wadkins after both players shot a combined 282 at the 1977 PGA Championship. Unfortunately for Littler, the end result was the same as Wadkins ended up defeating him.

This would be the last time a Masters would use an 18-hole playoff system as a tiebreaker. In 1979, the format changed to sudden-death.

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