He seems to have been forgotten through the annals of time, but Gene Littler was once one of America’s most prominent touring professionals. Born in 1930 in San Diego, Littler burst onto the national scene when he won the US Amateur in 1953, and then won on the PGA Tour as an amateur in 1954, capturing the San Diego Open.  He turned pro shortly thereafter, and finished second in the 1954 US Open.  He soon started winning tournaments at a consistent pace, winning most years from 1954 through 1977, including the 1961 US Open for his only major championship.  He had 21 top-10 finishes in majors overall, including three runner-ups.  His last victory on the regular tour occurred in 1977 at the Houston Open at the age of 46. Littler had a remarkable career in terms of consistently being one of the best golfers in the game for a very long time, but he wasn’t finished yet.  He became eligible for what is now the Champions Tour in 1980 and proceeded to rip off eight victories over the next six years. Known as “Gene the Machine” for his remarkably simple and elegant swing, Littler was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.  Today he is retired and lives in San Diego, but still tees it up annually in the Legends of Golf in Savannah, Georgia.
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