Three-time TOUR winner Nieporte passes away
December 27, 2014
By Laury Livsey, PGATOUR.COM
- December 27, 2014
- Tom Nieporte, a three-time TOUR winner, died on Dec. 21 in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 86. (File photo)
Tom Nieporte, a three-time PGA TOUR winner, died Dec. 21 in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 86.
Nieporte was a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University on a caddie scholarship. He won the NCAA individual title in 1951 in an event played at The Ohio State University Golf Course’s Scarlet Course. Ohio State lost the team title by a stroke to North Texas State. That same year, Nieporte made his PGA TOUR debut. As an amateur that season, he played in the World Championship of Golf at the Tam O’Shanter Club outside Chicago, tying for 58th. He also played in the Eastern Open in Baltimore a month later, shooting three 74s and a third-round 75 on his way to a tie for 44th.
After serving two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Nieporte turned professional in 1955 and began working at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York.
Nieporte made his PGA TOUR debut as a pro that season, at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Invitational, finishing 45th. His first full PGA TOUR season came in 1957, and he played the TOUR full time from 1957 to 1962. His best season came in 1959, when he won his first TOUR title while also recording three runner-up finishes. At the Rubber City Open Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Nieporte began the third round four shots off the lead but shot a 6-under 65 at Firestone’s South Course to take a one-shot, 54-hole lead over Bob Goalby. Nieporte cruised to a three-shot win over Goalby on the strength of a final-round 66. The win took away the sting of second-place showings in back-to-back starts — at the Texas Open and the Greater New Orleans Open. A month prior to his win at the Rubber City Invitational, he was again runner-up, at the Insurance City Open in Hartford, Connecticut.
Nieporte backed up his 1959 victory a year later, capturing the Azalea Open at Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, North Carolina, beating Gay Brewer by two strokes.
In 1961, Nieporte accepted the head professional position at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, New York, while still playing the TOUR periodically. Seven years after his last TOUR title, he played in the Bob Hope Desert Classic and looked every bit the part-time pro he was when he opened with a 4-over 76. Nieporte then reeled off rounds of 68-68-68-69 in the five-round event to come from behind on the final day to defeat Doug Sanders by one shot. His final PGA TOUR start came at the 1989 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, playing at age 60.
During his career, Nieporte played in 20 major championships, his best outing a tie for fifth at the 1964 PGA Championship at Columbus Country Club in the city where he went to college.
In 1978, Nieporte became the head pro at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. During his time as a club professional in the Metropolitan PGA Section, he won the Long Island Open five times (1962, 1964, 1965, 1973 and 1975), the 1962 Long Island PGA Championship and the 1971 Metropolitan PGA Championship.
Ohio State inducted Nieporte into its Hall of Fame in 1983.
Nieporte is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Joan Barker, nine children, 28 grandchildren and his sister Elizabeth Nieporte. A brother and two sisters preceded his death.
Funeral services will be Dec. 28 at the Glick Family Funeral Home in Boca Raton, Florida.