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San Diego's Golf Legends

Casper, Littler, Mickelson, Rodgers and Simpson

The San Diego region has cultivated many world-famous, award-winning athletes in a variety of different sports including baseball, football and basketball, and golf is no exception.

World-famous, award-winning athletes in a variety of different sports have called San Diego home, including baseball star Tony Gwynn, football's Junior Seau, track and field star Gail Devers, and basketball phenomenon Bill Walton.

Golf is no exception. Amid PGA's exciting golf scene in the 1960s, Billy Casper, Gene Littler and Phil Rodgers were known as the 1-2-3 punch from San Diego. Scott Simpson, also a San Diego native, grew up watching these three golf greats, just as local Phil Mickelson grew up admiring Simpson's game. Mickelson, on his way to surpassing the foursome, is challenging Casper's status as San Diego's most successful player with his collection of wins. Another San Diego native, Mary Kathryn "Mickey" Wright is considered one of the top female players of all time.

The following is a highlight of San Diego's most successful professional golfers:

Billy Casper

Billy Casper is the first San Diegan to win 3 majors. A two-time PGA player of the year (1966, 1970), he also has two U.S. Open wins (1959, 1966), one Masters win (1970), and one U.S. Senior Open win (1983). Casper was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 with 51 PGA Tour wins and nine Senior Tour wins.

Casper started his career playing at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista.

Gene Littler

Gene Littler, credited as one of the new breed of college-educated golfers to turn professional in the 1950s, is known for his smooth, rhythmical swing. A San Diego State University alumnus, Littler was nicknamed “Gene the Machine” and won the U.S. Open in 1961 and had acquired 29 PGA Tour wins and eight Senior Tour wins during his career. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.

Littler started his career playing at the La Jolla Country Club in La Jolla.

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson, recent winner of the 2021 PGA Championship, is one of San Diego's most famous golfers. A local high school golf star, Mickelson continued his career at Arizona State University, winning three NCAA championships. He then moved into the PGA where he currently has 45 PGA Tour victories, including three Masters wins (2004, 2006, 2010), two PGA Championship (2005 and 2021) and one Open Championship (2013). He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.

Michelson started his career playing at the Mission Trails Golf Course (formerly Navajo Canyon) in the San Carlos neighborhood.

"Mickey" Wright

Mary Kathryn "Mickey" Wright was a San Diego native who played on the LPGA Tour. She became a member of the tour in 1955 and won 82 LPGA Tour career events including 13 major championships. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 2017. In a 2009 survey of experts, published by Golf Magazine, Wright was chosen as the eighth best player of all time, and the top woman player of all time.

Wright started her career playing at Riverwalk Golf Club (formerly Stardust Country Club) in Mission Valley, La Jolla Country Club in La Jolla and San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista.

Phil Rodgers

Phil Rodgers, one of the game's finest amateurs of his time and the 1958 NCAA champion, was named on the Top 100 Teachers List for 2005-2006 by Golf Magazine. Rodgers became a premier short game instructor after his time on the PGA Tour, having been credited with helping Jack Nicklaus end his "slump" by winning the 1980 U.S. Open.

Rodgers started his career playing at the La Jolla Country Club in La Jolla.

Scott Simpson

Scott Simpson, a professional on the PGA Tour since 1979, won his first and only U.S. Open title in 1987, dueling Tom Watson in the final round. Simpson, with seven other PGA Tour wins, won his first and only Championships Tour title in 2006.

Simpson started his career playing at Riverwalk Golf Club (formerly Stardust Country Club) in Mission Valley.

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