Great swings last, and if longevity was the only measure, Gene Littler would have to be considered among the giants of the game. As it was, he won 29 PGA TOUR tournaments including a U.S. Open, was a stalwart in the Ryder Cup across two decades and was a dominant force in the early years of the Champions Tour. But unquestionably Littler’s sustained excellence is what made his career so noteworthy.
Only once during the quarter century from 1954 to 1979 did he finish out of the top 60 on the money list, and that was in 1972, when he was sidelined by surgery to remove a cancerous lymph node. Littler bounced back from that to win three tournaments and finish fifth on the money list in 1975 at the age of 45 and two years later he won again at 47.