AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Billy Casper's return to the Masters Tournament after a three-year hiatus did not
go quite as he had hoped.
"If it had been a nice, warm day I thought I
might be able to shoot 80," said the 73-year-old Casper.
He shot 105 instead.
The round, which will not go in the record books because, officially,
Casper withdrew, would have been the highest round in Masters history by
11 strokes, eclipsing the 95 shot by Charles Kunkel in the fourth round
of the 1956 Masters. Even the scoreboard in the press room was having
trouble keeping track, giving Casper a 106 due to an erroneous double
bogey 6 on No. 9 when he actually made 5.
For the record, Casper's round included three pars, six bogeys,
six double-bogeys, two triple-bogeys (on the first two holes he played,
the 10th and 11th) and a 14 on the par-3 16th hole -- a score that, had he
turned his card in, would have topped the 13's by Tom Weiskopf at the
12th in 1980 and by Tommy Nakajima at the 13th in 1978.
Casper's adventure on 16 started with a 9-wood shot that hooked into the
water. Dropping just behind the pond -- 145 yards from the hole -- Casper
proceeded to hit four more shots (all 7-irons) into almost the identical
"You could have covered them with a napkin," said Casper. "I was
wondering whether I would have enough golf balls. I originally left the
locker room with just six but then went back and got another half dozen
before I started."
Grabbing a 6-iron, Casper, the 1970 Masters champion, finally put the
ball on the green to a rousing round of applause. Three putts later, he
had his 14-a score that would have bested the 11 by Herman Barron on the
16th in 1950.
"I had to ask Tommy [Aaron] and Charlie [Coody] what I had on the hole,"
Casper said. "I thought I had 13, but they said I had 14. On the next
tee Charlie put his arm around me. He had 9 on the hole before. I told
him I just had to make him feel good."
In addition to the five balls Casper plunked in the water on 16, he also
had an unplayable on No. 10, a lost ball on No. 11 and a four-putt on
No. 6. But for his part, Casper showed no regrets at having chosen to
play -- and gave no thought to quitting during his round.
"None whatsoever," he said when asked if he had thought about quitting
at any point. "I came here to play. I had to get it out of my system and
I got it out of my system. I did it for my own satisfaction. And for my
family and my friends."
That group included his four grandchildren and
six children along with his wife of 54 years, Shirley, who walked all 18
holes with him. Although Casper will not play the second round, he said
he would be at the club to enjoy the tournament. He also said he would
not play in the Masters again. "It's over with. I've completed it," he
Hopefully Casper will be remembered more for his career than this round.
One of the most underrated player of all time, Casper won 51 times on
the PGA Tour, including the Masters and two U.S. Opens. He also played
on eight Ryder Cup teams and won the Vardon Trophy five times. "I don't
have anything to miss, I've done everything," he said
And what of the card from his round? "I'm keeping it -- I've got it right
here by my money clip," he said. "I'm going to frame it."