Jack Nicklaus's major championships: The U.S. Open

Jack Nicklaus won four U.S. Open championships.
Marvin E. Newman/SI

1962 U.S. Open: Palmer was playing in his backyard, but a young Nicklaus proved he was the game's new dominant force
By John Garrity
Sometimes the first chapter gives away the whole book. When Jack Nicklaus took on Arnold Palmer at the 1962 U.S. Open, he was a 22-year-old rookie with a JC Penney wardrobe and no wins in 17 professional starts. Palmer, meanwhile — 10 years older and way cooler with his bicep-hugging shirts and his John-Wayne-sizing-up-the-Indians squint — was the undisputed king of golf. Palmer was the reigning British Open champ. Palmer had recently won his third Masters title. Palmer made female hearts flutter, healed the sick, and could leap tall buildings at a single bound. So when Nicklaus beat Palmer for the first of his record 18 major-championship wins, it was not one of those "pass the baton" affairs where one generation gallantly hands off to the next. Nicklaus yanked the baton out of Palmer's hand and threw it over the fence onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Complete article

1967 U.S. Open: An Army was against him, and so was the tradition of Ben Hogan's U.S. Open scoring record, but Nicklaus broke them both at Baltusrol with a classic last-round 65 that now establishes him as a golfer without peer
By Alfred Wright
Jack Nicklaus, who with a flurry of unsurpassable golf last week became the U.S. Open champion of 1967, reminds you a bit of Clement Attlee during his early years as Prime Minister. Out of office at the time was Winston Churchill, powerless but still the beloved hero of the people. Well, Jack Nicklaus, who is the finest golf player in the world today when he is on his stick, has his Churchill: Arnold Palmer, still the people's choice though he has not won a major championship for more than three years.Never was this strange state of affairs more evident than at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Nicklaus was winning his second Open championship with a five-under-par 275, the lowest score ever recorded in this 67-year-old event. The victor played superlative and overwhelming golf as he beat Palmer by four very convincing strokes and the rest of the field by the distance of one of his mile-long tee shots. But throughout the final two rounds of the championship, when the chance of the draw paired Nicklaus and Palmer, Jack's finest shots were greeted by the gallery with what was almost a silent hostility. At times his worst mistakes were applauded, while Arnold's lesser shots were cheered like the slashing strokes of victory. Complete article

1972 U.S. Open: Jack Nicklaus' final score will never reveal what he did at Pebble Beach. Defying wind, sand, grass and water, he took a memorable Open and a giant step toward the Grand Slam
By Dan Jenkins
The Grand Slam almost went slumbering with the abalone in Carmel Bay last week, or soaring with the winds above it, or hiding with the wildlife in the forests beside it. But the right man was on call all along and Jack Nicklaus kept a personal rendezvous by winning the prettiest — and in some ways the most important — U.S. Open Championship ever played. On the toughest course there ever was, he beat the best there are, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino, plus a few of the usual lurkers who would have had to wire their sixth-grade English teachers for a suitable quote had they finished first. He won when he simply had to win, he won spectacularly and he won at Pebble Beach, a golf course which on this particular week was as mind swerving as the serpentine 17-Mile Drive that leads to it. Complete article

1980 U.S. Open: With his club on high. Jack Nicklaus celebrates the long birdie putt at 17 that certified his magnificent return to form at Baltusrol
By Dan Jenkins
The vast, old, gabled clubhouse rose out of the New Jersey countryside, looking as if it belonged on the jacket of a gothic novel, and Jack Nicklaus, walking toward it through the great roaring crowd, was toting so many records he could have used an extra caddie. It was a wondrous moment in golf. Harry Vardon was inventing the grip again, Arnold Palmer was hitching up his trousers, Bobby Jones was winning the Grand Slam at Merion, and Ben Hogan was smoking another cigarette and staring icily at the narrow corridors of Oakland Hills. But this was Jack Nicklaus, in effect doing all that and maybe more, and doing it in such a way that the Baltusrol golf course lay in total destruction behind him and the U.S. Open — the grandest of the major championships — now belonged so much to him that only an eternity could take it away.Nicklaus' golf game not only returned to him last week after an absence of almost two years, but the old gestures came back, too: Jack joyously raising his putter high in the air as a crucial birdie falls; Jack grinning and waving to the delirious throngs as he marches triumphantly up the 72nd fairway like a king of old. It was Nicklaus' Open all the way, and there were Nicklaus records set in every round, but he wouldn't have his fourth Open championship and his 18th major title — five more than anyone else — until the final hole had been played and he had nursed a two-stroke lead through the oaks, elms and spruce of Baltusrol and outlasted the heroic bid and the uncanny putter of Isao Aoki of Japan. Complete article

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