I’d like to have won it three or four times so I get to count it on my record.
When the first tournament of his 15th PGA TOUR season, the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, included a fourth-round 82, skeptics wondered if Jack Nicklaus had lost his passion for the game. They theorized that perhaps the pile of wins — 59 in all — was enough and nothing could stoke the Golden Bear’s competitive fires.
At 36, Nicklaus had set his sights on something that did get his juices flowing — the prestige of THE PLAYERS Championship. So enamored was Nicklaus to play against the best field in golf that he stayed in Florida to practice rather than compete in The West Coast finale. When the third edition of THE PLAYERS arrived at Inverrary Golf & Country Club in Lauderhill, Fla., Nicklaus explained his thinking to the assembled media. He said that the PGA TOUR would find a permanent home for THE PLAYERS, which would make it “a classic.”
Said Nicklaus: “I’d like to have won it three or four times so I get to count it on my record.”
Talk about a man of action, when Nicklaus broke a 54-hole tie with J.C. Snead with a birdie at the fifth and a scintillating 30-foot eagle at the par-5 15th, he had his second win in three tries in this coveted championship. (And for a second time in three years, Snead was second to Nicklaus at THE PLAYERS.)
The final-round 65 for 19-under 269 quieted the doubters. It also accounted for Nicklaus’ 60th career win and was a fitting way to usher THE PLAYERS into its new home base, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
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Past Champion: Jack Nicklaus, 1976
Playing his self-proclaimed “hang-back-and-hope-golf”, Nicklaus pitched to within 30-feet of the par-5 15, and holed for an eagle in a final round 65. Nicklaus would once again pull away from Snead as he had done two years prior.
Born, raised and educated in Columbus, Jack Nicklaus became golf’s greatest star — but he never forgot his Ohio roots.