‘I’m not here to place and show’: The time Jack Nicklaus bet on himself at a U.S. Open

May 30, 2018

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) – Jack Nicklaus had small wagers in practice rounds during his time on the PGA Tour, just like everyone else. Some players before his time made more money in practice round bets than at the tournament when the prize money was small.

But he says he never had a wager with another player during a tournament.

He recalled only one time when he had money riding on the outcome, and he was still an amateur.

“The only wager I ever had was the 1960 U.S. Open,” Nicklaus said. “It was a month before I was getting married. I was the U.S. Amateur champion and my dad said, ‘Hey, they got you at 35-1. You want some of that?’ I said, ‘I’ll have $20.’ He said, ‘You want place and show?’ I said, ‘I’m not here to place and show.”‘

He was right about that.

Nicklaus had a chance to win until missing short putts down the stretch. He was paired the final round with Ben Hogan, who also had a chance to win until he hit into the water on the 17th hole. Arnold Palmer charged from seven shots behind that day by driving the first green and closing with a 65 for his only U.S. Open title.

Nicklaus chuckled at the memory.

“I was more worried about winning $700 and getting married a month later as much as I was worried about winning the U.S. Open,” he said with a laugh. “That’s the only wager I’ve ever had in golf.”