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Gene Littler (1930 – 2019), former U.S. Open golf champion

by Kirk Fox

Gene Littler was a Hall of Fame golfer who won the 1961 U.S. Open among his 29 career victories on the PGA tour. The San Diego native claimed his first tour title in 1954, winning the hometown San Diego Open as an amateur. He recovered from a cancer diagnosis in 1972 to win four more titles including 3 in 1975 at the age of 45.

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Died: Friday, February 15, 2019. (Who else died on February 15?)


Details of death: Died in San Diego at the age of 88.

Is there someone you miss whose memory should be honored? Here are some ways.

On his much envied golf swing: “He had this beautiful rhythm … tick, tock, tick, tock. God, it was beautiful. And that could pretty much describe his personality, too.” – Chuck Courtney, pro emeritus at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club to the San Diego Union-Tribune

Littler on winning the 1973 St. Louis Children’s Hospital Open after his recovery from cancer surgery: “I was ecstatic after winning the Open, of course.” “But I was absolutely overcome by winning in St. Louis. I realized I was the only player who had ever come back from that kind of surgery.” – From his 1976 book, “The Real Score”

Full obituary: San Diego Union-Tribune

Related lives:

Arnold Palmer (1929 – 2016), golf legend

Hubert Green (1946 – 2018), hall of fame golfer

Remembering PGA pioneer Charlie Sifford


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