Golden Bear Turns 70
Jan. 21, 2010
The USGA wishes to extend birthday wishes to eight-time USGA champion Jack Nicklaus, who turned 70 on Thursday. Nicklaus, owner of a record 18 professional major titles, registered his first USGA championship 51 years ago when he claimed the 1959 U.S. Amateur title at The Broadmoor by defeating Charlie Coe in the final. Two years later, he won a second U.S. Amateur title at Pebble Beach Golf Links, site of this year’s U.S. Open.
Those victories paved the way for one of the greatest careers of all-time. Nicklaus made the 1962 U.S. Open his first professional title, beating Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff at Oakmont Country Club. He would win three more U.S. Open titles (1967, 1972 and 1980) and nearly won a fifth championship in 1982 until Tom Watson’s famous chip-in at the 17th hole at Pebble Beach denied him that opportunity.
But Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters triumph might be his most memorable title, considering it came at the age of 46.
Nicklaus also added two U.S. Senior Open titles to his portfolio.
Besides his on-course accomplishments, Nicklaus also has designed many courses that have received high acclaim.
Last weekend Nicklaus, who rarely competes anymore, teamed with longtime friend and rival Watson to win the Champions Skin Game at Kaanapali, Hawaii, giving the Golden Bear an early birthday present. The duo held off Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller. It was their second victory in the event over the last four years.
“Who played? I don’t remember,” Nicklaus, playfully enjoying a senior moment, told The Associated Press. “That’s part of being old, isn’t it? You don’t have to remember what happened five minutes ago.”
Nicklaus and Watson birdied two holes to win three skins and $130,000 on the back nine. The Hall of Fame duo and the oldest team in the tournament finished with 10 skins and $350,000.