During his career as a professional golfer, Jack Nicklaus won 73 times on the PGA Tour including a record 18 major championship victories. But according to the Golden Bear, the most crucial putt he ever drained happened in an amateur event.
Speaking this past weekend at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to celebrate 100 years of golf in Colorado, Nicklaus relived his 1959 U.S. Amateur victory there, where he defeated defending champion Charles Coe 1-up as a 19-year-old.
“I think it was probably the most important putt I ever made,” he said, referring to the putt he drained on the final hole of the championship match. “I was a young kid coming along, and those days it was a major championship. … It put me in a position of knowing that when I had a putt to make — when I had to make a putt to win — I did. Winning breeds winning. And so you get in your mind, the next time there (was) a putt I had to make, ‘Oh, I’ve done that before.'”
The putt was an eight-foot, left-to-right birdie try that gave Nicklaus the victory over Coe. Nicklaus had held a one hole advantage over Coe heading to the 17th hole, but lost it after a hooked tee shot.
Despite his incredible record worldwide, Nicklaus hasn’t forgotten the magnitude of his first U.S. Amateur victory — he would win his second two years later at Pebble Beach — and how it jumpstarted his historic career.