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JACK NICKLAUS By Tony Matthews

In January 2020, American legend Jack Nicklaus will be 80 years ‘young’.

Perhaps the greatest golfer ever, during his professional career, Jack competed in 164 Majors, more than any other player, winning a record 18 while also claiming 73 US PGA tour wins.
As an amateur, he played in the Walker Cup and was runner-up in the 1960 US Open, two shots behind Arnold Palmer.

But Jack’s golfing career will be defined by his 18 Major triumphs, and they are:

  • Six US Masters: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986.
  • Five US PGA Championships: 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980.
  • Four US Opens: 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980.
  • Three British Opens: 1966, 1970, 1978.

His first British Open win came at Muirfield in 1966 and last two at St. Andrew’s, where in 1970, he beat Doug Sanders in a play-off and in 1978 became the first player to win all three Majors on three separate occasions.

Jack, the ‘Golden Bear’, ended his ‘pro’ career at St. Andrew’s in 2005, and he received a ten-minute ovation from the crowd after hitting his final tee-shot 200 yards down the fairway towards the 18th green which saw him sink a 15-foot birdie.

Born in Colombus, Ohio on 21 January 1940, Jack played American football, tennis, basketball and baseball at school and was only ten when he got the ‘golfing bug’. Indeed, while still at school, he carded a 51 for the first nine holes at his father’s course, the Scioto Country Club.

Club professional, Jack Groat, was so impressed with ‘young’ Jack that he became his life-long coach.

His 17th game of golf, saw Jack win the 1962 US Open at Oakmount, collecting $17,500 (€15.600/£14,500). The 2019 Open winner won $2.2m (€1.96m/£1.88m).

Jack won practically every honour in the game, including the Ryder Cup, and when he retired, he joined the Senior PGA Tour, going on to win ten competitions, including eight Majors.

Today, Jack heads one of the world’s largest golf course design companies; he’s also a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and organizes the PGA Memorial Tournament.

The author of several ‘golf-orientated’ books, his autobiography, ‘Golf My Way’ is one of best instructional golf publications of all time.

Jack also owns the Nicklaus Golf Computer Games franchise and his charity work is legendary. Indeed, he received the USA ‘Congressional Gold medal’ in 2014 in recognition of his service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship.

Happy birthday Jack, champion golfer, the best the sport has ever seen.

Image: Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village Golf Club. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

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