The Masters – Notre Dame’s Tournament Record Holder

Welcome to the greatest annual weekend in golf as the 2024 Masters gets underway from Augusta, Georgia.  Before you start feasting on Pimento sandwiches this weekend, let’s take a moment to look back at Notre Dame’s record holder at the world’s most famous golf tournament.

When you think of Notre Dame athletics you likely think of football stars like Joe Montana and “Rocket” Ismail, a dynastic women’s basketball team, maybe some solid basketball squads Digger Phelps and Mike Brey put together over the years, or perhaps even the reigning national championship men’s lacrosse team.

Golf is perhaps among the last sports you associate Notre Dame with being great at.

Now the Fighting Irish may not have Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus in their golf record books, but they do have 1970 Masters Champion, Billy Casper.

Casper was one of the best golfers in the world at his prime as he won 51 times on the PGA Tour, the seventh most all-time.  27 of those victories came between 1964 and 1970 which were two more than Nicklaus during that time and six more than Arnold Palmer and Gary Player combined to win in that window.

Casper was also a short-lived Notre Dame athlete, attending the University for one semester on a golf scholarship.  He chose to leave college and pursue a career as a professional golfer and as you know by now, that certainly was a wise choice by him.

Casper won that 1970 Masters in a playoff over Gene Littler which led to his record performance at Augusta 35 years later.

How so?

Remember with The Masters, when you win you get a lifelong invitation to keep playing in the tournament regardless of your age or skill set, even if some are encouraged to stop doing so on occasion.

Casper continued to play in the tournament up until 2005 when he played his final round of competitive golf at Augusta.

Casper, who was 73 at that time, was perhaps more than just a little bit past his prime.

USA TODAY Sports – Guide to the 2024 Masters

You won’t find it in any record book because he never actually turned in his first-round scorecard in 2005, but Casper shot what would be a record-high for a single round at The Masters with a score of 106.

His scorecard that round read as follows:

If you’re familiar with Augusta you’re aware that the 16th hole is a par 3 and you’ll notice his 14 on that hole alone.   As could possibly guess, had it been an official round Casper would also hold the record for the highest score on a single hole.  Since it wasn’t three other golfers are tied for the record high by scoring a 13 on various holes over the years.

Casper never turned in his scorecard that April 2005 afternoon however so his Masters record isn’t technically even an official one, but we won’t let technicalities get in the way of a good story.

Now, who said Notre Dame’s golf isn’t loaded in tradition?

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire