Who's who: Gene Littler

  • Photo of Gene Littler
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  • Photo of Gene Littler
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Who's who: Gene Littler

  • Name:

    Gene Alec Littler
  • Also known as:

    Gene the Machine
  • Country:

    USA
  • Born:

    July 21, 1930 in San Diego, California.
  • Original/Home Club:

  • Occupation:

    Professional golfer
  • Turned Pro:

    1954

Roll of Honour

MAJORS (1): US Open (1961). US Amateur champion (1953). Walker Cup player (1953). Ryder Cup player (1961, '63, '65, '67, '69, '71, '75). Total professional wins (50), including PGA Tour (29), Japan Tour (2) and Champions Tour (8). World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 1990).

Did you know?

Nicknamed "Gene The Machine" for his smooth, rythmic swing, Littler graduated from San Diego State University. Playing as an amateur, he won his first PGA Tour title, the San Diego Open, in January 1954. Later that year he turned professional and recorded a second-place finish in the U.S. Open, finishing just one shot behind winner Ed Furgol. Four PGA Tour wins followed in 1955 and regularly thereafter until 1977, including the U.S. Open title in 1961. His first win on the Champions Tour came in 1983.

Top tournaments won by Gene Littler

1989
America
Pelican Bay, Naples
209 (-7)
$45,000
Aetna

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Pelican Bay, Naples

Score

209 (-7)

Prize money

$45,000

Title sponsor

Aetna

Played as the Aetna Challenge (Feb 24-26). Second-placed Harold Henning (RSA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA), who recorded the last of his eight Senior PGA Tour wins. [The Club Pelican Bay, Naples, FL].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

207 (-6)

Prize money

$45,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Gus Machado Senior Classic. Second-placed Orville Moody (USA) finished 3 shots behind Littler (USA). [Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, nr Miami, FL; at the time known as the Links at Key Biscayne].

1987
America
200 (-10)
$37,500
NYNEX/Golf Digest

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

200 (-10)

Prize money

$37,500

Title sponsor

NYNEX/Golf Digest

Played as the NYNEX/Golf Digest Commemorative. Second-placed Dale Douglass (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA). [Sleepy Hollow CC, Scarborough, New York].

1986
America
201 (-12)
$30,000
Bank One

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

201 (-12)

Prize money

$30,000

Title sponsor

Bank One

Played as the Bank One Senior Golf Classic. Littler (USA) beat Miller Barber (USA) with a par at the third playoff hole; Bob Goalby (USA) was eliminated at the first playoff hole. [Griffin Gate Resort, Lexington, Kentucky].

1986
America
Onion Creek
255 (-25)
$50,000
Liberty Mutual

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Onion Creek

Score

255 (-25)

Prize money

$50,000

Title sponsor

Liberty Mutual

Played as the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (unofficial two-man better-ball team event). Second-placed Jim Ferree (USA) and Charlie Sifford (USA) finished 2 shots behind Don January (USA) & Gene Littler (USA). [Onion Creek Club, Austin, Texas].

1986
America
Four Hills CC
202 (-14)
$37,500
Sunwest Bank

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Four Hills CC

Score

202 (-14)

Prize money

$37,500

Title sponsor

Sunwest Bank

Played as the inaugural Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Classic (May 2-4). Second-placed Don January (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA). [Canyon Club, Albuquerque, New Mexico; at the time known as Four Hills CC].

1985
America
Onion Creek
257 (-23)
$50,000
Liberty Mutual

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Onion Creek

Score

257 (-23)

Prize money

$50,000

Title sponsor

Liberty Mutual

Played as the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (unofficial two-man better-ball team event). Second-placed Miller Barber (USA) & Gay Brewer (USA), Billy Casper (USA) & Lee Elder (USA) and Bob Goalby (USA) & Sam Snead (USA) finished 1 shot behind Don January (USA) & Gene Littler (USA). [Onion Creek Club, Austin, Texas].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

1 up

Prize money

$100,000

Title sponsor

Seiko

Played as the inaugural Seiko-Tucson Senior Match Play Championship (Jan 6-8; Snr PGA Tour season opener). Littler (USA) beat Don January (USA) by 1 hole in the 18-hole final. [North course, Randolph GC, Tucson, AZ].

1983
America
Pelican Bay, Daytona Bch
203 (-13)
$25,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Pelican Bay, Daytona Bch

Score

203 (-13)

Prize money

$25,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Greater Daytona Senior Classic (March 18-20). Second-placed Guy Wolstenholme (Eng) finished 6 shots behind first-time US Snr Tr winner Littler (USA). [North course, Club at Pelican Bay, Daytona Beach, FL].

1983
America
Vintage Club, CA
280 (-8)
$35,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Vintage Club, CA

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$35,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Vintage Invitational (unofficial US Snr Tr event). Second-placed Paul Harney (USA) finished 1 shot behind (USA). [Vintage Club, Palm Desert, California].

1983
America
Bellevue CC, NY
275 (-9)
$25,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Bellevue CC, NY

Score

275 (-9)

Prize money

$25,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Greater Syracuse Senior's Pro Classic. Second-placed Don January (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA). [Bellevue CC, Syracuse, New York].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$23,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the World Seniors Invitational. Second-placed and defending champion Miller Barber (USA) finished 5 shots behind Littler (USA). [Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina].

1981
America
Onion Creek
257 (-23)
$35,000
Liberty Mutual

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Onion Creek

Score

257 (-23)

Prize money

$35,000

Title sponsor

Liberty Mutual

Played as the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (unofficial two-man better-ball team event; first time over 72 holes). Second-placed Peter Thomson (Aus) and Kel Nagle (Aus) finished 1 shot behind Gene Littler (USA) & Bob Rosburg (USA). [Onion Creek Club, Austin, Texas].

1981
America
Vintage Club, CA
271 (-17)
$50,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Vintage Club, CA

Score

271 (-17)

Prize money

$50,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Vintage Invitational (unofficial US Snr Tr event). Second-placed Bob Goalby (USA) finished 9 shots behind Littler (USA). [Vintage Club, Palm Desert, California].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

211 (-5)

Prize money

$20,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural World Seniors Invitational. Second-placed Arnold Palmer (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA). [Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina].

Category

Aus/NZ

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

288

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Australian Masters. Rodger Davis (Aus) finished in second place behind Littler (USA).

1977
America
276 (-12)
$40,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

276 (-12)

Prize money

$40,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Houston Open. Second-placed Lanny Wadkins (USA) finished 3 shots behind Littler (USA), who recorded the last of his 29 PGA Tour wins. [The Woodlands CC, nr Houston, TX. Course used was based on the current back-nine of the Tournament course and part of the neighbouring Panther Trail course].

1975
America
Colonial CC, Tenn
270 (-18)
$35,000
Danny Thomas

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Colonial CC, Tenn

Score

270 (-18)

Prize money

$35,000

Title sponsor

Danny Thomas

Played as the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic (May 22-25). Second-placed John Mahaffey (USA) finished 5 shots behind Littler (USA). [South course, Colonial CC, Cordova, nr Memphis, TN].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

271 (-17)

Prize money

$50,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Westchester Classic (July 31-Aug 3). Littler (USA) beat Julius Boros (USA) with a par at the first playoff hole. [West course, Westchester CC, Rye, NY].

1975
America
280 (-8)
$37,000
Bing Crosby

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$37,000

Title sponsor

Bing Crosby

Played as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (Jan 23-26). Second-placed Hubert Green (USA) finished 4 shots behind Littler (USA). [Pebble Beach Links, Monterey Peninsula, CA. Earlier rounds also at: Cypress Point Club and Spyglass Hill GC].

1975
Japan
Sobu CC
278 (-6)
US$65,000
x

Category

Japan

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Sobu CC

Score

278 (-6)

Prize money

US$65,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Taiheiyo Club Pacific Masters (Oct 9-12; Japan Tr event). Second-placed Lee Elder (USA) and Hubert Green (USA) finished 1 shot behind defending champion Littler (USA), who recorded his second Japan Tour win. [Sobu course, Sobu CC, Inzai, Chiba, Japan].

1974
Japan
Sobu CC
279 (-5)
US$65,000
x

Category

Japan

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Sobu CC

Score

279 (-5)

Prize money

US$65,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Taiheiyo Club Pacific Masters (Oct 10-14; Japan Tr event). Second-placed Yancey (USA) finished 5 shots behind first-time Japan Tour winner Littler (USA). [Sobu course, Sobu CC, Inzai, Chiba, Japan].

1973
America
Norwood Hills CC
268 (-12)
$42,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Norwood Hills CC

Score

268 (-12)

Prize money

$42,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the St Louis Golf Classic (July 19-22). Second-placed Bruce Crampton (Aus) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA), who recorded his 25th PGA Tour win, and first following cancer surgery 16 months earlier. [West course, Norwood Hills CC, St Louis, Missouri; originally North Hills CC].

1971
America
Pensacola CC
276 (-8)
$30,000
Monsanto

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Pensacola CC

Score

276 (-8)

Prize money

$30,000

Title sponsor

Monsanto

Played as the Monsanto Open (April 15-18). Second-placed George Archer (USA) and Pete Brown (USA) finished 3 shots behind Littler (USA). [Pensacola CC, Pensacola, FL].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

283 (+3)

Prize money

$25,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Colonial National Invitation. Second-placed Bert Yancey (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA). [Colonial CC, Ft Worth, TX].

1969
America
274 (-10)
$32,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

274 (-10)

Prize money

$32,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Greater Greensboro Open (April 3-6). Littler (USA) beat Julius Boros (USA) and Orville Moody (USA) with a birdie at the fifth playoff hole. Tom Weiskopf (USA) was eliminated at the first playoff hole. [Sedgefield CC, Greensboro, NC].

1969
America
Arizona CC
263 (-21)
$30,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Arizona CC

Score

263 (-21)

Prize money

$30,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Phoenix Open Invitational (Feb 13-16). Second-placed Don January (USA), Billy Maxwell (USA) and Miller Barber (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA), who won this event for the third time. [Arizona CC, Phoenix, AZ].

1966
America
Firestone CC
143
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Firestone CC

Score

143

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the World Series of Golf; a 36-hole exhibition event. Won by Gene Littler (USA). [South course, Firestone CC, Akron, Ohio].

1965
America
273 (-7)
$20,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

273 (-7)

Prize money

$20,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Canadian Open. Second-placed Jack Nicklaus (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA). [Mississaugua G&CC, Mississauga, Ont.].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Lucky International Open.

1962
America
Upper Montclair CC
275 (-9)
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Upper Montclair CC

Score

275 (-9)

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Thunderbird Classic Invitational. Second-placed Jack Nicklaus (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA). [Upper Montclair CC, Clifton, NJ].

1961
Majors
281 (+1)
$14,000
USGA

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

281 (+1)

Prize money

$14,000

Title sponsor

USGA

The US Open (61st) (Jun 15-17). Second-placed Doug Sanders (USA) and Bob Goalby (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA). [South course, Oakland Hills CC, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Oklahoma City Open Invitational.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Eastern Open Invitational.

1959
America
Wethersfield CC
272 (-12)
$3,500
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Wethersfield CC

Score

272 (-12)

Prize money

$3,500

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Insurance City Open Invitational. Second-placed Tom Nieporte (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA). [Wethersfield CC, nr Hartford, CT].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Arlington Hotel Open.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Miller Open Invitational.

1959
America
266 (-14)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

266 (-14)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Tucson Open Invitational. Second-placed Joe Campbell (USA) and Art Wall Jr (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA), who won for the second straight week on the PGA Tour. [El Rio G&CC, Tucson, AZ. Now known as El Rio GC].

1959
America
Arizona CC
268 (-12)
$2,400
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Arizona CC

Score

268 (-12)

Prize money

$2,400

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Phoenix Open Invitational (Feb 5-8). Second-placed Art Wall Jr (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA), who recorded his tenth PGA Tour win. [Arizona CC, Phoenix, AZ].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

285 (-3)

Prize money

$10,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Tournament of Champions (April 18-21). Second-placed Billy Casper (USA), Jimmy Demaret (USA), Dow Finsterwald (USA) and Billy Maxwell (USA) finished 3 shots behind Littler (USA), who recorded the last of his three straight wins in this event. [Wynn Las Vegas, Nevada; at the time known as Desert Inn CC].

1956
America
Ft Sam Houston
276 (-12)
$3,750
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Ft Sam Houston

Score

276 (-12)

Prize money

$3,750

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Texas Open Invitational. Second-placed Mike Fetchick (USA), Frank Stranahan (USA) and Ernie Vossler (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA). [Ft Sam Houston GC, San Antonio, TX].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

281 (-7)

Prize money

$10,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Tournament of Champions (April 26-29). Second-placed Cary Middlecoff (USA) finished 4 shots behind defending champion Littler (USA), who recorded the second of his three straight wins in this event. [Wynn Las Vegas, Nevada; at the time known as Desert Inn CC].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Palm Beach Invitational.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$10,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Tournament of Champions (Apr 28-May 1). Second-placed Jerry Barber (USA), Pete Cooper (USA) and Bob Toski (USA) finished 13 shots behind Littler (USA), who recorded the first of his three straight wins in this event. [Wynn Las Vegas, Nevada; at the time known as Desert Inn CC].

1955
America
Summerlea G&CC
272 (-8)
$5,000
Labatt Brewing

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Summerlea G&CC

Score

272 (-8)

Prize money

$5,000

Title sponsor

Labatt Brewing

Played as the Labatt Open. Littler (USA) beat Stan Leonard (Can) with a par at the first playoff hole, to win his fifth PGA Tour title. [Summerlea G&CC, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Québec].

1955
America
Inglewood CC
276 (-8)
$5,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Inglewood CC

Score

276 (-8)

Prize money

$5,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Los Angeles Open (Jan 7-10). Second-placed Ted Kroll (USA) finished 2 shots behind Littler (USA), who recorded his first PGA Tour win as a pofessional. [Inglewood CC, Inglewood, Los Angeles, CA. Course is believed to have closed].

1955
America
Arizona CC
275 (-5)
$2,400
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Arizona CC

Score

275 (-5)

Prize money

$2,400

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Phoenix Open (Feb 3-6). Second-placed Billy Maxwell (USA) and Johnny Palmer (USA) finished 1 shot behind Littler (USA). [Arizona CC, Phoenix, AZ].

1954
America
Rancho Santa Fe
274 (-14)
amateur
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Rancho Santa Fe

Score

274 (-14)

Prize money

amateur

Title sponsor

x

Played as the San Diego Open (Jan 21-24). E.J. "Dutch" Harrison (USA) finished 4 shots behind first-time PGA Tour winner Littler (US, amateur). Harrison collected the $2,400 top money prize. [Rancho Sante Fe GC, nr San Diego, CA].

1953
Amateur
Oklahoma City G&CC
1 hole
n/a
USGA

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Littler, Gene

Venue

Oklahoma City G&CC

Score

1 hole

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

USGA

The US Amateur Championship (53rd). Littler (USA) beat Dale Morey (USA) by 1 hole in the final. [Oklahoma City G&CC, Nichols Hill, OK].

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