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Casper finally gets the credit he deserves

Billy Casper and Arnold Palmer
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Billy Casper is finally getting the credit he deserves winning the 1966 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.

'I didn't when I was playing, but I'm sure getting it now,' Casper said on “Live From the U.S. Open' on Tuesday, 'and I appreciate it so much more now than when I was playing.'

Casper, who defeated Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff for his second of three major titles, was hardly an unsung player. Casper's popularity paled to that of Palmer, but the San Diego native had an outstanding career of his own.

The Hall of Famer won 51 PGA Tour titles, was on eight Ryder Cup teams and won the Vardon Trophy on five occasions for having the PGA Tour's lowest scoring average.

Casper rallied from a 7-shot deficit on the 10th tee in the final round 46 years ago to force the playoff. In the ensuing playoff, Casper shot 69 to Palmer's 73 - his fourth round in the 60s of the five he played that week.

His win may have been classified as an upset, but Casper was the better player.

'That year, there were 15 scores shot under (par) 70, and I had four of them,' he said. 'You might say I was playing pretty well then.' 

Casper's playoff round was the 16th and last played that week under 70, but was the most important. 

For many years, the pair never discussed what happened at Olympic. Palmer finally broached the subject publicly a few years ago.

'He was on the putting green,' Casper recalled with a smile, 'talking about how well I putted that week.'