Nicklaus marks platinum jubilee

2015-01-25 15:00

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The man known as the Golden Bear turned 75 this week, on January 21 to be exact.

He can reflect on a career in which he was a supreme exponent of the sport he played – and in which he became synonymous with the gentlemanliness that is a hallmark of the game.

Nicklaus won 18 major titles (six US Masters, four US Opens, three British Opens and five US PGAs) in a 24-year span from 1962 to 1986. In addition, he won two US amateur titles and eight senior majors.

He registered 19 second-place finishes in the majors and, along with compatriot Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, known as “The Big Three”, formed a triumvirate that dominated golf in the 60s and 70s – creating a template for the modern professional game.

Snapshots from his career make for impressive reading:

»Seventy-three career PGA tour wins, ranking third all-time (after Tiger Woods and Sam Snead).

»Shot 51 in the first nine holes he ever played – at 10 years old – at Scioto Country Club in his hometown Columbus, Ohio.

»?Recorded his first hole-in-one at age 14.

»?First start as a professional came at the 1962 Los Angeles Open, where he tied for 50th to earn $33.33 (R386.62).

»First win as a professional was at his 17th career start at the 1962 US Open at Oakmont, where he defeated Arnold Palmer in a play-off.

»?Was one of 13 members who were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

»Played the final 10 holes of the 1986 Masters in seven-under-par to become the oldest winner of the tournament – at age 46.

»?His last round on the PGA tour came at the 2005 Open Championship at St Andrews, where he finished three-over 147 to miss the cut by one stroke. The Royal Bank of Scotland printed a £5 note bearing his image.

»Opened Muirfield Village in 1974, which has hosted the memorial tournament since its inception in 1976. The course was named after his favourite open championship venue.

»?Was awarded the presidential medal of freedom in 2005.

»Chosen as Sports Illustrated’s sportsman of the year in 1978.

»Has 117 worldwide professional victories.

»Played in 146 consecutive major championships between 1962 and 1998.

»Has designed six golf courses in South Africa – Pecanwood, Simola, Pearl Valley, Serengeti, St Francis Links and Houghton – and collaborated with Gary Player on the redesign of Leopard Creek.

And an interesting fact: Although often described as Big Jack, he is just 1.80m tall.– Statistics courtesy of pgatour.com

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