Forty years after his Open Championship win at Royal St. George’s, Bill “Buck” Rogers takes us through his major championship experiences, including that victory in 1981 when he was the PGA Tour Player of the Year and winner of seven events around the world. He gave David Graham a run at Merion in the 1981 U.S. Open and was in the final group with Tom Watson at Pebble Beach in 1982. Ben Crenshaw had to talk him into playing the British Open and he almost missed his tee-time in the first round. Facing adversity on the final day, he recovered from a double on the 7th to make that famous walk to the 18th green to claim the Claret Jug. Hear how the obligations that came with being a winner ultimately extinguished Bill’s passion for the game as he tells us his life story, “FORE the Good of the Game”.
Bill Rogers is a Texan through and through, but he spent parts of his childhood on military bases in Germany and Morocco and the international theme continued into his golf career.
He played in the Walker Cup in 1973 and quickly became a consistent money winner on the PGA Tour. His two greatest victories, however, came in Britain. In 1979 he eliminated Sandy Lyle before beating Isao Aoki in the final to win the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.
PGA Player of the Year in 1971, he won seven times around the world, including the World Series of Golf in America, twice in Australia and once in Japan. He was runner-up to David Graham in the US Open at Merion and then won The Open at Royal St George’s.
It was his second appearance in The Open and he had to be persuaded to play by his friend and fellow Texan Ben Crenshaw. The pair were first and second after two days but while Crenshaw slumped to a 76 in the third round, Rogers followed up his 66 of the previous day with a 67 to lead by five strokes.
A double bogey at the seventh in the final round brought Bernhard Langer within one stroke but three birdies in four holes from the ninth put the American comfortably ahead again. He won by four from Langer and by seven from Ray Floyd and Mark James.
A year later he was third behind Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at the US Open and he was eighth in the 1983 Open at Birkdale but that was the last time he made the cut.
In 1988 he retired from tournament golf having burned himself out playing in events around the world. He has been based in San Antonio ever since, as a club professional, golf course designer and college coach.