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Nicklaus won 18 professional majors - twice as many as all but one other golfer. He finished second 19 more times, and third nine times. In all, Nicklaus posted 48 Top 3 finishes, 56 Top 5 finishes and 73 Top 10 finishes.
Perhaps Tiger Woods will someday challenge that record. But for now, Nicklaus remains - by far - the most accomplished player in the history of major championship golf. And he did it all exhibiting great class and sportsmanship.
Nicklaus shot 51 in his first 9-hole round of golf at the age of 10. By age 12, he was winning the first of 6 straight Ohio State Junior titles. He missed the cut in his first U.S. Open in 1957 at age 17.
Nicklaus won the 1959 and 1961 U.S. Amateur titles while playing collegiately at Ohio State. He finished second to Arnold Palmer in the 1960 U.S. Open.
He turned pro in 1962, earning $33.33 in his first event as a pro. But things quickly got better, and he won his first major that year, defeating Palmer in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open.
By age 26, Nicklaus had completed the career grand slam. Then he won all the majors a second time. And finally, with his 1978 British Open victory, he'd won them all at least three times each. His final major came in 1986, at the age of 46, with his sixth Masters.
Nicklaus played sparingly on the Senior PGA Tour, but won 10 times, including 8 senior majors. He founded and hosts the prestigious Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour.
Nicklaus brought power to the forefront in golf, being the longest driver of his generation. But he also was one of the best clutch putters ever, and his concentration skills were legendary.
Along the way, Nicklaus created his own equipment company and has designed hundreds of golf courses, among many off-course interests.
Jack Nicklaus was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
Nicklaus turned 65 in January 2005, which was the last year he entered a PGA tournament as an exempt player. He announced that he would retire from tournament golf in 2005 at The Open Championship at The Old Course at St Andrews. The very fact that the 2005 Open was scheduled at The Old Course can be seen as a tribute to Nicklaus. Several years earlier, the organizers of The Open, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), had scheduled the 2006 Open for The Old Course. However, aware that Nicklaus' exemption to play in The Open would run out after the 2005 Open, The R&A moved The Old Course up in the rotation one year to give Nicklaus an opportunity to play his last Open there.
He is currently a golf course architect, in partnership with his sons and son-in-law through Nicklaus Design, and is personally responsible for over 200 golf course designs. These include Muirfield Village, Shoal Creek, Castle Pines and the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel. Nicklaus partnered with Pete Dye to create Harbor Town, on Hilton Head Island.
Nicklaus also continues to manage the Memorial Golf Tournament he created in his home state of Ohio, which is played on a course he designed and is one of the more prestigious events on the PGA TOUR. His other interests are varied and many, and include a golf equipment company and golf academies. There is a Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of The Ohio State University in his home town of Columbus, Ohio.
Nicklaus played without much preparation in April 2005 at The Masters, a month after the drowning death of his 17-month-old grandson Jake (child of his son, Steve) on March 1, 2005. He and Steve played golf as therapy for their grief following the death. After days of playing, it was Steve who suggested his dad return to The Masters. He made that his last appearance in the tournament. The last competitive tournament in which Nicklaus played in the United States was the "Bayer Advantage Classic" in Overland Park, Kansas on June 13, 2005.
However, Nicklaus finished his professional career at The Open Championship at St. Andrews on July 15, 2005. He played with Luke Donald and Tom Watson in his final round. On the 18th hole, Nicklaus hit the final tee-shot of his career, and strolled to the Swilcan bridge and waved to the appreciative crowd (who gave him a ten-minute standing ovation). He then began posing for commemorative photographs with his son and caddy, Steve, as well as Donald and Watson. Afterwards, Nicklaus ended his illustrious career in style, making a fifteen-foot birdie putt and extending his putter and left arm in the air as he had done so many times to celebrate crucial putts. Jack wound up missing the 36-hole cut with a score of +3 (147).
Awards and Honors
• Jack Nicklaus: "I never went into a tournament or round of golf thinking I had to beat a certain player. I had to beat the golf course. If I prepared myself for a major, went in focused, and then beat the golf course, the rest took care of itself."
• Gene Sarazen on Nicklaus: "I never thought anyone would ever put Hogan in the shadows, but he did."
• Jack Nicklaus played 154 consecutive majors for which he was eligible, from the 1957 U.S. Open to the 1998 U.S. Open.
• Nicklaus finished in the Top 10 on the money list 17 consecutive years (1962-78).
• He won at least one PGA Tour event in 17 consecutive years (1962-78).
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