Jack Nicklaus’s major championships: The PGA Championship

July 21, 2009

1963 PGA Championship: While the rest of the field fried, Jack Nicklaus coolly muscled his way to the PGA title in Dallas
By Alfred Wright
If they ever hold a golf tournament in hell, the PGA will sponsor it and Jack Nicklaus will win it. To show how practical this would be, the Professional Golfers' Association held its own esteemed championship in Dallas last week, enabling its pros to endure a preliminary trial by fire. In the cool, cool, cool of the evening the Dallas temperature would drop to 100� or so, but in the shimmering sun on the fairways of the DAC (for Dallas Athletic Club) Country Club it was climbing toward 110� every day. Galleries and contestants alike tried to hide beneath the big golf umbrellas that normally are used to fend off more refreshing weather, like cloudbursts; the players spent more time wiping off sweat with Turkish towels than they did lining up putts; three weather-hardened touring pros bowed out midway through the tournament because of heat exhaustion, and most of the field of 167 would have liked to follow in their wobbly wake. Conditions were so bad that Gary Player, that believer in black, surrendered and wore white. Yet successfully marching through all of it, and playing some of the best golf of his young and exciting career, was Jack Nicklaus. By shooting a cool 69-73-69-68, he took the $13,000 first prize, raised his total 1963 winnings to $75,140 and proved that he must have the highest boiling point in golf. Complete article

1971 PGA Championship: The new Jack Nicklaus is trim, genial and smartly dressed but, as his win at the PGA shows, he still plays like the old Nicklaus—with power and determination. He may be the best the game ever had
By Dan Jenkins
The 53rd PGA Championship belonged to Jack Nicklaus from the moment it was scheduled on a tough but dreary sort of course down off the turnpike near his Florida home. Who else but Nicklaus could have ignored the constantly annoying wind and even overpowered it? Who else knew that most of the putts broke toward the turnpike? Who else had his major adversary, Gary Player, staying in the guest room so he could keep an eye on him? And, anyhow, who else is the greatest golfer of our age and should have won? One of the interesting things about the way Nicklaus goes about this these days—things like winning another major title in his historical jog through the record books—is that he seems to take the shape of the real Jack Nicklaus only at the big events, like last week's. If one had made book on who was ready and who was not for the championship at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Nicklaus would have been among those who could not possibly have been ready. There had been seven tournaments on the calendar in 1971. Jack had appeared in only three, and he had played decently in only one. Complete article

1973 PGA Championship: The ghost of the great Bobby Jones had been haunting him more than he liked to admit, but now Jack Nicklaus can sleep in peace. At Canterbury in Cleveland he hit the magic No. 14 by winning the PGA
By Dan Jenkins
These are the words Jack Nicklaus privately left to history: "Book the hunt." Put them in there with all those giant steps for mankind and praise the Lord and pass the song charts and the Gettysburg recital and all that stuff. All those memorable sayings that squirm their way into we the people of the country clubs, in order to form a more perfect player. Jack got old No. 14 last week at Canterbury and officially became the greatest golfer who ever lived or died, and now we have to deal with it in terms of history. It was the night before the final round of the 1973 PGA Championship in Cleveland, the last of golfs big four titles. The emotional end of the season. The Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open had come and gone, and Jack Nicklaus had not won any of them. And he only needed one more big one to make it 14 major championships in a glittering career.One more, the 14th, would move him ahead of Bobby Jones on the alltime list. As has so often been said, they can play all the Pensacolas and Tucsons and Piccadilly World Match Plays they want to, but in golf the major championships are the ones that really matter. To history, ego, prestige, endorsements—whatever. And the PGA at Canterbury was Nicklaus' last chance until another Augusta to overcome a barrier, perhaps mental, he had been confronting for months. The ghost of Jones. Complete article

1975 PGA Championship: It takes a telescope to spot Jack Nicklaus, whose fourth PGA win and 16th major title put him light years above mere earthlings
By Dan Jenkins
He is a known Communist. He kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. He attacked Pearl Harbor. He peddles dope and he—what? Oh, sorry. We were all just sitting around out here in Akron trying to think up something new to say about Jack Nicklaus. It is getting rather difficult, for last week Nicklaus did that thing again. He won another major golf championship, which is like saying the sun always sets in the West. This time it was the National PGA at the Firestone Country Club. The PGA is a tournament Jack tends to win a lot, and Firestone has contributed its part to keeping him solvent over the years, thank you. This PGA has already been billed as Sweet Sixteen, which means that it is Nicklaus' 16th major title, and, quickly now, before everyone nods off, let's total them up one more time for posterity. It's four PGAs, five Masters, three U.S. Opens, two British Opens and those two U.S. Amateurs he won way back before he started amassing twice as many majors as Arnold Palmer or any of his contemporaries. Complete article

1980 PGA Championship: Jack Nicklaus not only rediscovered his putting stroke in time to win a record 19th major tournament, but he also nearly lapped the field with his seven-stroke victory in the PGA Championship at newly treacherous Oak Hill
By Dan Jenkins
With that flying right elbow on his backswing and those small hands that force him to use the unorthodox interlocking grip and all of that time he takes standing over his putts, the chances are that Jack Nicklaus probably will never win 30 major championships. It has to catch up with him sooner or later, any golfing expert can see that.Yeah, sure. Jack won his 19th major—six more than Bobby Jones or anyone else, ever—last week by turning the PGA Championship at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. into a hunting expedition in which you were supposed to find the rest of the field. But you could see that because of Nicklaus' age, which is 40, his desire and the mechanics of his game were deteriorating at the finish. Complete article