Golf is not a game of perfect. Golf is a game where the good is taken with the bad. These two truths are especially exposed during the Open Championship and the golf played on unforgiving links courses.
Jack Nicklaus, during his prime in the UK, was absurd and damn close to perfection
- 15 year stretch from 1966-1980, worst Open finish was T-6 (1969)
- 3 wins (1966, 1970, 1978),
- 6 runner-ups
- 3rd (twice), 4th (twice), 5th (once), 6th (once)
Let’s make this more eye-watering than watching Craig and Kevin Stadler at a Golden Corral buffet - over this 15 year span, only 25 players total beat Jack Nicklaus. 25 players!
Expanded even further to look at all majors contested from the 1970 Open to the 1978 Open, Nicklaus finished outside the top 10 just twice!
For all of the talk of golf’s lovable second place major finishers (Oosthuizen, Norman, Palmer, Mickelson), let’s not be remiss to consider Jack’s “loser’s record”:
- bagged 19 runner-ups in majors in his career
- five came in a playoff or by one stroke (three of these to The Merry Mex, Mr. Trevino)
- 37 top 2 finishes in majors
There are Tour regulars who don’t even play in 37 majors in a career nowadays!
Looking beyond the Open Championships results, other bananas results from Jack’s prime
- From 1970 to 1979, Nicklaus' worst finish at the Masters was 8th
- In 44 majors from 1970-1980 Nicklaus missed one single cut
- That same span- 38 top 10’s, 30 top 5’s, 10 wins
- From 1971-1982, Nicklaus finished outside the top 10 just once in the U.S. Open
Let’s just say that the Golden Bear feasted during his prime. No, we aren’t referring to the “fine” English cuisine rammed down his gullet during the Disco Decade... nor was he doubling back with Jeff Foxworthy at the Golden Corral buffet.