Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus

[nik-luhs]
For his detailed statistics, records, and other achievements, see List of career achievements by Jack Nicklaus.

Jack Nicklaus

Personal Information
Birth
Columbus, Ohio
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Nationality
Residence North Palm Beach, Florida
College Ohio State University
Career
Turned Pro 1961
Tours PGA Tour (joined 1962)
Champions Tour (joined 1990)
Professional Wins (113)
PGA Tour 73 (2nd all time)
Champions Tour 10
Other 21 (Regular)
9 (Senior)
Major Championship Wins (18)
Masters (6) 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
U.S. Open (4) 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980
The Open (3) 1966, 1970, 1978
PGA (5) 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980
Awards listed here

Jack William Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940), also known as "The Golden Bear", is widely regarded as the greatest professional golfer of all time, in large part because of his records in major championships. Nicklaus accumulated a record 18 professional majors in a PGA Tour career lasting 25 years, from 1962 to 1986. Later, on the Champions Tour, the senior version of the PGA Tour, he won 8 of that tour's majors between 1990 and 1996. Both records still stand today.

Nicklaus has also taken part in many off-course activities, including golf course design, golf instruction book writing, and running his own tournament on the PGA Tour, the Memorial Tournament. Together with Arnold Palmer and Gary Player (collectively known as the "Big Three"), he is credited with turning golf into the major spectator sport it has become. While Palmer brought golf into the television era, it was the developing Nicklaus-Palmer-Player rivalry that drove subsequent interest.

Amateur career

Nicklaus was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of a pharmacist. He was raised in the suburb of Upper Arlington, and attended Upper Arlington High School. Overcoming a mild case of polio as a child, he took up golf at the age of ten, shooting 51 for his first nine holes. At 13, he broke 70. He won the first of five straight Ohio State Junior titles at the age of twelve. He won the Ohio Open in 1956 at age 16, competing against professionals. While attending Ohio State University, he won the U.S. Amateur title twice (1959, 1961), and an NCAA Championship (1961). At the 1960 U.S. Open, he shot a 282, finishing second by two strokes to Arnold Palmer, who won the tournament with a final round 65. This score remains the lowest ever made by an amateur player in the U.S. Open. He represented the United States, against Great Britain and Ireland, on winning Walker Cup teams in both 1959 and 1961, winning both of his matches in each contest. He was also a member of the victorious 1960 U.S. Eisenhower Trophy team, winning the unofficial individual title with a four-round score of 269, a record which still stands. Nicklaus was named the world's top amateur golfer by Golf Digest magazine for three straight years, 1959-1961. Nicklaus also won two Trans-Mississippi Amateurs in 1958 at Prairie Dunes Country Club and 1959 at Woodhill Country Club.

PGA Tour career

Professional breakthrough

Nicklaus began his professional career in 1962. His first professional win came in the same year, defeating the heavily favored Arnold Palmer in a Monday playoff at Oakmont for the 1962 U.S. Open. By the end of the year Nicklaus had picked up two more wins, those being the Seattle Open and the Portland Open back-to-back. He completed 1962 with over $60,000 prize-money, placed third on the tour money list, and was named Rookie of the Year.

In 1963 Nicklaus won two of the four major championships - the Masters and the PGA Championship. Along with three other wins including the Tournament of Champions, he placed second on the tour money list with just over $100,000. Despite winning no majors in 1964, Nicklaus placed first on the tour money list for the first time in his career with a margin of $81.13 over Palmer. At the British Open at St Andrews, Nicklaus set a new record for the lowest score in the final 36 holes with 66-68. This was not enough, however to win the event; Nicklaus placed second to Tony Lema.

Nicklaus won the Masters in 1965 and 1966, becoming the first consecutive winner of this event. He set a tournament record of 271 in the 1965 Masters, which lasted until Tiger Woods shot 270 in 1997. In 1966, he also won the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland, which was the only major he had failed to win up to this time. This win made him the youngest player, age 26, and the only one after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, and Gary Player (until Tiger Woods at age 24) to win all four major championships, now known as the Career Slam. Jack Nicklaus eventually accomplished the triple career slam in 1978, winning all four majors three times. In 1967 Nicklaus won his second U.S. Open title at Baltusrol, breaking Hogan's 72-hole record with a 275.

Career downturn (1968-1970)

After Nicklaus won the 1967 U.S. Open, he did not win another major championship until the 1970 British Open at the Old Course at St Andrews. Moreover, his highest finish on the tour money list for the years 1968-70 was second; his lowest was fourth, his worst ranking on the list since turning professional. During this period, Nicklaus also let his physical condition decline somewhat, putting on excess weight, which affected his stamina. He significantly improved his condition in the fall of 1969, and his game returned to top form (My Story, by Jack Nicklaus). In 1970, Nicklaus's father, Charlie Nicklaus, died. Soon after this Nicklaus won the 1970 British Open, defeating fellow American Doug Sanders in a playoff round in emotional fashion. Nicklaus threw his putter into the air after sinking the winning putt, as he was thrilled to have won the Open at the home of golf, St. Andrews. He describes this period in his life:
"I was playing good golf, but it really wasn't that big a deal to me one way or the other. And then my father passed away and I sort of realized that he had certainly lived his life through my golf game. I really hadn't probably given him the best of that. So I sort of got myself back to work. So '70 was an emotional one for me from that standpoint. ... It was a big boost.

Record setter

With a win at the 1971 PGA Championship in February, Nicklaus became the first golfer to win all four majors twice in a career. By the end of the year he had won four additional tournaments including the Tournament of Champions and the National Team Championship with Arnold Palmer.

Nicklaus won the first two majors of 1972, the Masters and the U.S. Open, creating talk of a Grand Slam. In the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Nicklaus struck a one-iron on the par-three 17th hole into a stiff, gusty ocean breeze which landed, hit the flagstick and ended up six inches from the cup. The U.S. Open was Nicklaus's 13th career major, and tied him with Bobby Jones for career majors (although a different group of tournaments had been considered majors in Jones's time). He won a total of seven tournaments during the year, and was runner-up in a further three. Nicklaus did not win the Grand Slam in 1972, however, as Lee Trevino repeated as the British Open champion (Nicklaus finished second, one shot behind), and Gary Player prevailed in the PGA Championship.

Jones's record of majors was soon broken when Nicklaus won the PGA Championship in August 1973 for his 14th professional major. In that year he won another six tournaments. The PGA Player of the Year was awarded to Nicklaus for the third time, and the second year in a row. Nicklaus's failure to win a major in 1974 was offset somewhat by his being named one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Nicklaus says this honor was a "nice memento" after a "disappointing season".

Nicklaus started off well in 1975: he won the Doral-Eastern Open, the Heritage Classic, and the Masters in consecutive starts. His Masters win was his fifth, a record he was to break eleven years later. In this tournament, Nicklaus made a 40-foot putt on the 16th hole to all but secure his victory. He also won the PGA Championship for the fourth time in August. His performance in 1975 resulted in his being named PGA Player of the Year for the fourth time, tying Ben Hogan, and he was also named ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year.

He placed first on the tour money list again in 1976, despite competing in only 16 events, winning only two — neither of them majors — and playing what he called "hang-back-and-hope golf". He also won the PGA Player of the Year award for a record fifth time. Between 1972 and 1976 the only time he failed to win this award was 1974.

The following year, 1977, was also majorless for Nicklaus, but his second-place finish behind Tom Watson at the British Open at Turnberry created headlines around the world. In a one-on-one battle dubbed the "Duel in the Sun," Nicklaus shot 65-66 in the final two rounds, only to be beaten by Watson, who scored 65-65. Nicklaus would later say:

"There are those in golf who would argue into next month that the final two rounds of the 1977 British Open were the greatest head-to-head golf match ever played. Not having been around for the first five hundred or so years of the game, I'm not qualified to speak on such matters. What's for sure, however, is that it was the most thrilling one-on-one battle of my career.
During 1977, Nicklaus won his 63rd tour event, passing Ben Hogan to take second place on the career wins list, behind only Sam Snead.

Nicklaus won the 1978 British Open to become the only player to have won each major championship three times. This record has since been tied by Tiger Woods, by winning the 2008 U.S. Open. Nicklaus and Woods are the only two to win three "Career Grand Slams." Nicklaus won three other tournaments on the PGA Tour including the Tournament Players Championship, and was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. After this year he suffered a lapse of form, not winning another tournament until June 1980. The year of 1979 was the first in which he failed to win a tournament; he had only one runner-up finish.

In the offseason, Nicklaus addressed two problems which had hurt his performance. His longtime coach Jack Grout noticed that he had become much too upright with his full swing; this was corrected. Then Nicklaus' short game, never a career strength, was further developed with the help of Phil Rodgers, a 20-year friend and tour rival, who had become a fine coach. Rodgers lived for a time at the Nicklaus home while this work was going on (Jack Nicklaus: My Story, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden).

In 1980, Nicklaus recorded only three top-ten finishes, but two of these were victories in majors (the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship); the other was a runner-up finish in the Doral-Eastern Open. During the next five years Nicklaus won only twice on the tour, including his own tournament (Memorial Tournament) in 1984.

In 1986, Nicklaus capped his career by recording his sixth Masters victory under incredible circumstances, posting a six-under 30 on the back nine at Augusta for a final round of seven-under 65. At the 17th hole, Nicklaus hit it to within 18 feet and rolled it in for birdie, raising his putter in celebration and completing an eagle-birdie-birdie run. Nicklaus made a victory-sealing par-4 at the 72nd hole, and waited for the succeeding players to falter. At age 46, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner in history, a record which still stands. On the feat, sports columnist Thomas Boswell remarked,

"Some things cannot possibly happen, because they are both too improbable and too imperfect. The US hockey team cannot beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics. Jack Nicklaus cannot shoot 65 to win the Masters at age 46. Nothing else comes immediately to mind."
This victory was his 18th major title as a professional.

Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters using the Response ZT putter. Its manufacturer, MacGregor Golf, received 5,000 orders the next day; it had planned to sell only 6,000 copies of this model for the entire year. Before the tournament, Tom McCollister, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said that Nicklaus was "done, washed up, through," and this spurred him on, as he says:

"I kept thinking all week, 'Through, washed up, huh?' I sizzled for a while. But then I said to myself, 'I'm not going to quit now, playing the way I'm playing. I've played too well, too long to let a shorter period of bad golf be my last.

This victory was to be his last in his long career on the PGA Tour. At the age of 58, Nicklaus made another valiant run at the 1998 Masters, where he tied for sixth.

Champions Tour career

Nicklaus became eligible to join the Champions Tour when he turned 50 in early 1990, at which point he declared, "I'm never satisfied. Trouble is, I want to play like me—and I can't play like me anymore." He then quickly won in his first start on the tour, the Tradition, which was also a Champions Tour major championship. Nicklaus would go on to win another three Traditions, while the most anyone else has won is two. Later in the year, Nicklaus won the Senior Players Championship for his second win of the year, and also his second major of the year. The next year, in 1991, Nicklaus won three of the five events he started in, those being the U.S. Senior Open, the PGA Seniors Championship and the Tradition for the second year straight. These, again, were all majors on the Champions Tour.

After a winless year in 1992, Nicklaus came back to win the U.S. Senior Open for the second time in 1993. Also in that year he teamed up with Chi Chi Rodriguez and Raymond Floyd to win the Wendy's Three Tour Challenge for the Champions Tour team. In 1994 he won the Champions Tour's version of the Mercedes Championship for his only win of the year. The Tradition was his again in 1995, in a year where he made the top 10 in all of the seven tournaments he entered in. His 100th career win came the next year, when he won the Tradition for the fourth time, and second time in succession. This was to be his last win on the Champions Tour, and the last official win of his career.

Close of playing career

Nicklaus played without much preparation in April 2005 at The Masters, a month after the drowning death of his 17-month-old grandson Jake (child of his son, Steve) on March 1, 2005. He and Steve played golf as therapy for their grief following the death. After days of playing, it was Steve who suggested his dad return to The Masters. He made that his last appearance in the tournament.

The last competitive tournament in which Nicklaus played in the United States was the Champions Tour's Bayer Advantage Classic in Overland Park, Kansas on June 13, 2005.

Nicklaus finished his professional career at the The Open Championship at St. Andrews on July 15, 2005. Nicklaus turned 65 in January that year, which was the last year he could enter The Open Championship as an exempt player. He played with Luke Donald and Tom Watson in his final round. After hitting his tee shot off the 18th tee in the second round, Nicklaus received a ten-minute standing ovation from the crowd. Soon afterwards, Nicklaus ended his career with a fitting birdie, holing a fifteen-foot birdie putt on the 18th green. Nicklaus missed the 36-hole cut with a score of +3 (147).

In 2000, Nicklaus played in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship for the last time. In 2005, Nicklaus made his last Masters appearance, and played The Open one last time.

In 1999, Nicklaus was selected as the top male individual athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated magazine.

In 2000, Nicklaus was ranked the greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine, ahead of Ben Hogan (2nd), Sam Snead (3rd), Bobby Jones (4th), Byron Nelson (5th), and Arnold Palmer (6th).

He was inducted into the Royal Canadian Golf Association's Hall of Fame, the only non-Canadian so honored, in recognition of his contributions to Canadian golf. His likeness was featured on a special issue five-pound note from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Nicklaus received the 2005 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor.

Off-the-course career

Nicklaus devotes much of his time to golf course design and operates one of the largest golf design practices in the world. His first design, Harbour Town Golf Links, was opened for play in 1969. For the first few years all of his projects were co-designs with either Pete Dye or Desmond Muirhead, who were two of the leading golf course architects of that era. His first solo design, Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario, opened for play in 1976; this course served as the host site for the Canadian Open for many years from 1977. He is now in partnership with his four sons and his son-in-law through Nicklaus Design. The company had 299 courses open for play at the end of 2005, which was nearly 1% of all the courses in the world (In 2005 Golf Digest calculated that there were nearly 32,000 golf courses in the world, approximately half of them in the United States.). There are Nicklaus Design courses in more than thirty U.S. states and more than twenty-five countries around the world. Jack Nicklaus is personally responsible for over 200 golf course designs. These include Muirfield Village, Shoal Creek, Porta Cima, Castle Pines, Red Ledges, Country Club of the North, and the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel.

Nicklaus also continues to manage the Memorial Tournament he created in his home state of Ohio, which is played on a course he designed and is one of the more prestigious events on the PGA Tour. His other interests are varied and many, and include a golf equipment company and golf academies. There is a Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of the Ohio State University in his home town of Columbus, Ohio. He had the unique privilege of dotting the "i" of "Script Ohio" (specifically the "i" in "Ohio"), the signature formation of the Ohio State University Marching Band, at the Ohio State homecoming game on October 28, 2006 when the Buckeyes played Minnesota; this is considered the greatest honor that can be bestowed on a non-band member. While at Ohio State University, Nicklaus became a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. Nicklaus also a trustee at a private school in North Palm Beach called The Benjamin School. Most of his children and grand children attended this school.

Nicklaus also owns Nicklaus Golf Equipment. Founded in 1992, the Nicklaus Golf Equipment Company manufactures golf equipment in three distinctive categories (Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus Signature and Nicklaus Premium) targeting golfers at every stage of their golfing development. Jack's passion for excellence and intense focus translates to the design and development of his golf equipment, which in turn enhances each golfer's playing experience.

Playing style

Jack Nicklaus had an unusual playing style, combining being one of the greatest putters of all time with being among the longest hitters on the tour during his prime. He popularized the "power fade," which was his characteristic ball flight. His superb course management skills were the envy of his rivals. He was also known as a conservative player at times, going for broke only when he needed to. This was especially apparent on the green, where he would often choose to be less aggressive and make sure of an easy two-putt.

Nicklaus, a pioneer of performance science, was also known for eating bananas on the golf course as an energy food.

Writings and media

Nicklaus has written several golf instructional books, an autobiography (My Story), a book on his golf course design methods and philosophy, and has produced several golf videos. The writer Ken Bowden often assisted him with this work. His book Golf My Way is one of the all-time classics of golf instruction, and has been reissued several times. Nicklaus has also written golf instructional columns for GOLF magazine and for Golf Digest magazine, with which he is currently associated. He also appeared as a television analyst and commentator with ABC Sports on golf broadcasts. Several of the books have been reissued, sometimes under different titles, and "My Story" as a limited edition. A selection of his major works follows.

  • The Greatest Game of All, by Jack Nicklaus, 1969.
  • Golf My Way, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1974, 1998, 2005.
  • On and Off the Fairway, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1978.
  • Play Better Golf: The Short Game and Scoring, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1987.
  • Play Better Golf: Short Cuts to Lower Scores, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1990.
  • Jack Nicklaus: My Story, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1997 (plus a limited edition of 225 to honor Nicklaus at the 2000 Memorial Tournament).
  • Jack Nicklaus' Lesson Tee, by Jack Nicklaus, with Ken Bowden, 1998.
  • Nicklaus by Design: Golf Course Strategy and Architecture, by Jack Nicklaus and Chris Millard, 2002.
  • Jack Nicklaus: Memories and Mementos from Golf's Golden Bear, by Jack Nicklaus, 2007.
  • Golf and Life, by Jack Nicklaus and Dr. John Tickell, 2007.

Career achievements

During his career on the PGA Tour, Nicklaus accumulated 18 major championships which is a record, and 73 PGA Tour victories, second only to Sam Snead. He also holds the record for the most wins at The Masters, with 6. He played on 6 Ryder Cup teams, as well as captaining the team twice, and topped the PGA Tour money list 8 times.

Major Championships (18)

Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runners Up
1962 U.S. Open 2 shot deficit -1 (72-70-72-69=283) Playoff 1 Arnold Palmer
1963 The Masters 1 shot lead -2 (74-66-74-72=286) 1 stroke Tony Lema
1963 PGA Championship 3 shot deficit -5 (69-73-69-68=279) 2 strokes Dave Ragan
1965 The Masters (2) 5 shot lead -17 (67-71-64-69=271) 9 strokes Arnold Palmer, Gary Player
1966 The Masters (3) Tied for lead E (68-76-72-72=288) Playoff 2 Gay Brewer, Tommy Jacobs
1966 The Open Championship 2 shot deficit -2 (70-67-75-70=282) 1 stroke Doug Sanders, Dave Thomas
1967 U.S. Open (2) 1 shot deficit -9 (71-67-72-65=275) 4 strokes Arnold Palmer
1970 The Open Championship (2) 2 shot deficit -5 (68-69-73-73=283) Playoff 3 Doug Sanders
1971 PGA Championship (2) 4 shot lead -7 (69-69-70-73=281) 2 strokes Billy Casper
1972 The Masters (4) 1 shot lead -2 (68-71-73-74=286) 3 strokes Bruce Crampton, Bobby Mitchell, Tom Weiskopf
1972 U.S. Open (3) 1 shot lead +2 (71-73-72-74=290) 3 strokes Bruce Crampton
1973 PGA Championship (3) 1 shot lead -7 (72-68-68-69=277) 4 strokes Bruce Crampton
1975 The Masters (5) 1 shot deficit -12 (68-67-73-68=276) 1 stroke Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller
1975 PGA Championship (4) 4 shot lead -4 (70-68-67-71=276) 2 strokes Bruce Crampton
1978 The Open Championship (3) 1 shot deficit -7 (71-72-69-69=281) 2 strokes Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite, Simon Owen
1980 U.S. Open (4) Tied for lead -8 (63-71-70-68=272) 2 strokes Isao Aoki
1980 PGA Championship (5) 3 shot lead -6 (70-69-66-69=274) 7 strokes Andy Bean
1986 The Masters (6) 4 shot deficit -9 (74-71-69-65=279) 1 stroke Tom Kite, Greg Norman

1 Defeated Arnold Palmer in 18-hole playoff - Nicklaus (71), Palmer (74)
2 Defeated Tommy Jacobs & Gay Brewer in 18-hole playoff - Nicklaus (70), Jacobs (72), Brewer (78)
3 Defeated Doug Sanders in 18-hole playoff - Nicklaus (72), Sanders (73)

Results timeline

Tournament 1957 1958 1959
The Masters DNP DNP CUT
U.S. Open CUT T41 CUT
British Open DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP

Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
The Masters T13 LA T7 T15 1 T2 1 1 CUT T5 T24
U.S. Open 2 LA T4 LA 1 CUT T23 T31 3 1 2 T25
British Open DNP DNP T32 3 2 T12 1 2 T2 T6
PGA Championship DNP DNP T3 1 T2 T2 T22 T3 CUT T11

Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
The Masters 8 T2 1 T3 T4 1 T3 2 7 4
U.S. Open T49 2 1 T4 T10 T7 T11 T10 T6 T9
British Open 1 T5 2 4 3 T3 T2 2 1 T2
PGA Championship T6 1 T13 1 2 1 T4 3 CUT T65

Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
The Masters T33 T2 T15 WD T18 T6 1 T7 T21 18
U.S. Open 1 T6 2 T43 T21 CUT T8 T46 CUT T43
British Open T4 T23 T10 T29 T31 CUT T46 T72 T25 T30
PGA Championship 1 T4 T16 2 T25 T32 T16 T24 CUT T27

Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
The Masters 6 T35 T42 T27 CUT T35 T41 T39 T6 DNP
U.S. Open T33 T46 CUT T72 T28 CUT T27 T52 T43 CUT
British Open T63 T44 CUT CUT CUT T79 T45 60 DNP DNP
PGA Championship CUT T23 CUT CUT CUT T67 CUT CUT DNP DNP

Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
The Masters T54 CUT DNP CUT CUT CUT
U.S. Open CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
British Open CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
PGA Championship CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

LA = Low Amateur
DNP = did not play
WD = withdrew due to injury
CUT = missed the half way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place.
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Summary of major championship performances

  • Starts - 163
  • Wins - 18
  • 2nd place finishes - 19
  • Top 3 finishes - 46
  • Top 5 finishes - 57
  • Top 10 finishes - 73
  • Longest streak of top-10s in majors - 13

See also

Notes and references

External links

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