Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golf legacy

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Some might watch golf simply out of the love for the sport, but it is also fast rising as a favorite for betters, with all manner of creative prop bets and futures to be had. Fanduel’s golf betting odds say it all, really.

A good bet anytime he teed it up was Jack Nicklaus, long among the game’s most dominant and iconic figures. Many might argue that there are other contenders, but few will disagree that at the end of the day, the ‘Golden Bear was golf’s highest power.

Nicklaus won 18 majors, and 73 overall professional tournaments during his regular PGA Tour career. He prevailed on all types of courses, and he had epic battles against some of golf’s all-time greatest players. His Sunday round of 65 leading to his 1986 Masters victory is widely considered as being one of the biggest moments in golfing history.

Nicklaus is exalted for not just his playing career, but also his character, sportsmanship and role as one of golf’s statesman. Many golf writers and avid fans will note that Nicklaus was not only the greatest winner in golf history, but he was also the greatest loser. Every time he finished second in a major – which happened a record 19 times- he went out of his way to ensure that the winner got to enjoy what they had accomplished. Always happy to say ‘the best man won’. It was true on these occasions.

Tom Watson dueled with Nicklaus on three occasions in major championships; the 1977 Masters, the 1977 Open Championship and the 1982 U.S. Open.

Watson considers those events to be his three greatest moments in golf, not only because he won a major title, but because he beat Nicklaus to do so. Nicklaus became the way in which golfers measured themselves.

When Watson chipped in on the 71st hole at Pebble Beach, denying Nicklaus a fifth U.S. Open title, Nicklaus waited behind the 18th green for Watson to finish, and when he walked off the green, Nicklaus grabbed him by the shoulders and said “You little son of a bitch, you did it to me again” then adding in “I’m proud of you. I know how much you needed to win this tournament.” It was a very special moment for Watson, and he knew that the loss was a tough one for Nicklaus.

One of Nicklaus’ lasting legacies is the hosting each year of The Memorial Invitational at Muifield Village, one of his many outstanding designs during his long second career as a golf-course architect and one that he tweaks year-after-year to meet the challenge of today’s professionals. It has contributed millions to charity since its inception in 1976.

 

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