Jack Nicklaus at 75: A Look at His Majors

Jack Nicklaus, a near unanimous choice for the greatest golfer of all time, turned 75 on Wednesday. At one point, it seemed Tiger Woods would easily catch the Golden Bear for most career Majors won, but Woods is into his seventh year without one, and Nicklaus still leads the chase 18-14.

To celebrate three-quarters of a century for Nicklaus, here’s a look back at his 18 Major titles.

1) 1962 US Open – Held at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. 22-year-old Nicklaus defeated Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff that drew 10,000 fans, most of them rooting for Palmer. He won the playoff by three shots with an even-par 72, and became the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones (1923). Prize money? $17,500.

2) 1963 Masters – Won it with a 3-foot putt on the final hole to defeat Tony Lema by one stroke. His second-round 66 was the best score of the tournament. Prize money? $20,000.

3) 1963 PGA Championship – Played at the Dallas Athletic Club in Texas. Was three shots back and in third place headed to Sunday, but fired a 3-under 68 despite temperatures soaring over 100 degrees. He became just the third player to win the Masters and the PGA in the same year. Prize money? $13,000.

4) 1965 Masters – Set a course record with a 17-under 271 that would stand until 1997 when it was broken by Tiger Woods (-18). Also set a record of winning by 9 strokes, which Woods also broke in 1997 (12). He, Palmer and Sam Snead were tied after 36 holes, but Nicklaus’ 64 on Saturday tied the coruse record and gave him a 5-stroke lead. Prize money? $20,000.

5) 1966 Masters – Became the Masters’ first-ever back-to-back champion by defeating Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer in an 18-hole Monday playoff, shooting a 70. Overcame a second-round 76, and won the playoff by two shots. Prize money? $20,000.

6) 1966 Open Championship – Held at Muirfield Golf Links in Scotland, Nicklaus won for the first time by a stroke over Doug Sanders and Dave Thomas to complete the first of three Grand Slams. The course was the inspiration for his own Muirfield Village in Ohio which opened in 1974. Prize money? $5,880.

7) 1967 US Open – Held at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. His final round 65 led to a new tournament record of 275, breaking the old one established by Ben Hogan in 1948. He sent Palmer to his fourth straight second-place finish at the US Open. Prize money? $30,000.

8) 1970 Open Championship – After more than three years without a Major win, he took the title in an 18-hole playoff at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. He beat Doug Sanders by 1 stroke in the playoff. Prize money? $12,600.

9) 1971 PGA Championship – Held at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, site of the original PGA National Club. Nickalus beat Billy Casper, who had won the Masters earlier that year, by two strokes, leading wire to wire. The win concluded his second career Grand Slam.  Was played in February instead of August because of the heat. Prize money? $40,000.

10) 1972 Masters – the first Masters played without Bobby Jones, who died the previous December. Nicklaus’ first-round 68 gave him the lead and he never relinquished it, winning by three strokes ahead of three other competitors. Prize money? $25,000.

11) 1972 US Open – Played at Pebble Beach, Nicklaus defeated Bruce Crampton by three strokes in the tournament with the highest final-round scoring conditions post World War II. His 290 (+2) was the second-highest winning score in that time frame. This being his 11th Major, it tied the record for Majors by a professional of 11. Prize money? $30,000.

12) 1973 PGA Championship – Played at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio. Nicklaus won by four strokes over Crampton with a 7-under 277. Prize money? $45,000.

13) 1975 Masters – Defeated Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf by one stroke to win his fifth Masters and 13th Major. Was ahead by 5 strokes after two rounds, but Weiskopf shot a 66 and Nicklaus a 73 on Saturday to drop him back to second place by a single stroke. Birdied three of his first five holes, and 15 and 16 in the final round to take the title. Prize money? $40,000.

14) 1975 PGA Championship – Defeated Crampton for the third time in four wins, and was the fourth time he would win two Majors in the same year.Fired a 4-under 276 to beat Crampton by two strokes. Prize money? $45,000.

15) 1978 Open Championship – Held at the Old Course at St. Andrews, he defeated Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite, and Simon Owen for his last Open Championship win. Consecutive 69s in the final two rounds provided the difference. Prize money? $12,500.

16) 1980 US Open – Held at Baltusrol in Springfield, New Jersey, he broke his own tournament record by firing a 272. It was his first win since turning 40, and first in two years, after going winless in 1979, leading many to believe he was on the downside of his career. He also tied the course record with a 63 in his opening round. Prize money? $55,000.

17) 1980 PGA Championship – So much for past his prime! Nicklaus destroyed the field, winning by 7 strokes for his fifth PGA Championship title. He joined Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan in winning the US Open and PGA Championship in the same year. He was the only player to shoot under par for the tournament, finishing at -6. Prize money? $60,000.

18) 1986 Masters Championship – Save the best for last? At 46, Nicklaus fired a final round 65 including a back nine 30 to reach 9-under and win his final Major at age 46, the second-oldest winner in history. He set new records for most Masters wins (6) and longest span between Masters wins (23 years) and first and last Majors (24 years).  He wasn’t even in the Top 10 until tying for ninth at the end of the third round, but came alive on the back nine Sunday, an eagle on 15, a birdie on 16, and a 18-foot birdie on 17 that gave him lead for the first time int he tournament. When Greg Norman missed a 15-foot par putt on 18, Niclaus had defeated the Aussie as well as Tom Kite by a single stroke. Prize money? $144,000.


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