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Golden Ruler With a streak of 154 majors, Jack Nicklaus set a mark that may stand forever

July 20, 1998
July 20, 1998

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July 20, 1998

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Golden Ruler With a streak of 154 majors, Jack Nicklaus set a mark that may stand forever

Was it the streak to end all streaks? Fans of Byron Nelson, Joe
DiMaggio and Cal Ripken Jr. might disagree, but Jack's Pack
would argue that their man's run of 154 consecutive major
championships is the greatest streak in sports history.

This is an article from the July 20, 1998 issue

When it began at the 1957 U.S. Open, Jack Nicklaus was a chubby
17-year-old senior at Scioto (Ohio) High. When it ended last
month at the U.S. Open, he was a weathered 58-year-old
grandfather. During that time the U.S. had nine presidents, the
Dow Jones average rose from 511.79 to 8,712.87, the Dodgers left
Brooklyn, and men walked on the moon.

Tom Watson, who was seven when Nicklaus played in his first
major, is the prince of streakdom, having started every Grand
Slam event from the 1974 PGA through the '96 U.S. Open. But
Watson's run, the second-longest ever, ended at 87 when he
missed the '96 British Open with a strained shoulder. The
longest cur rent streak belongs to Nick Faldo, who has played 44
majors in a row beginning with the '87 British Open, which he
won. Faldo, however, withdrew from last week's Loch Lomond
invitational with a sore elbow and might not play this week at
Royal Birkdale. If he doesn't, Ian Woosnam, who has played in 40
straight Grand Slam events, will take over as the marathon man
of the majors.

Nicklaus's total of 154 includes only tournaments for which he
had qualified. Purists might quibble about a handful of British
Opens and PGAs he missed before turning pro. Even so, he has
played in each of the last 146 majors, an unbeatable feat in
itself, and the Golden Bear didn't merely show up at those
events. He saved his best golf for them. Nicklaus, Ben Hogan,
Gary Player and Gene Sarazen are the only players to achieve a
career Grand Slam by winning the Masters, the U.S. Open, the
British Open and the PGA, but Jack won each at least three
times. Including his two U.S. Amateur titles, he won 20 majors
in all, seven more than Bobby Jones and one more than Seve
Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Curtis
Strange and Lee Trevino combined. As the chart to the left
shows, he leads virtually every statistical category in the
majors.

Can Nicklaus's streak be eclipsed? Not anytime soon. Tiger Woods,
for example, must play in every major through the 2033 Masters if
he wants to pass Jack.

--Rick Lipsey

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO BEARING UP Nicklaus won the '86 Masters at the tender age of 46. [Jack Nicklaus in game]

THE STREAK
MASTERS U.S. OPEN BRITISH PGA TOTALS
OPEN
Starts 40 42 36 36 154
Cuts made 36 35 32 27 130
Wins 6 4 3 5 18
2nds 4 4 7 4 19
3rds 2 1 3 3 9
Top 10s 22 18 18 15 73
Scoring avg. 71.63 70.57 71.72 71.32 71.29

MILES AHEAD

To appreciate Jack Nicklaus's streak of 154 consecutive majors,
take a look at the longest such streaks among active players and
the best streaks of five alltime greats.

ACTIVE

Nick Faldo 44
Ian Woosnam 40
Mark Calcavecchia 34
Davis Love III 32

ALLTIME

Tom Watson 87
Ben Crenshaw 48
Gary Player 48
Greg Norman 23
Arnold Palmer 19

BEAR TRACKS

With or without his two U.S. Amateur titles, Nicklaus tops the
list of major-championship winners. The alltime leaders:

PRO U.S. & BRITISH
MAJORS AMATEURS TOTAL

Jack Nicklaus 18 2 20
Bobby Jones 7 6 13
Walter Hagen 11 0 11
Ben Hogan 9 0 9
Gary Player 9 0 9
Arnold Palmer 7 1 8
Tom Watson 8 0 8
Gene Sarazen 7 0 7
Sam Snead 7 0 7
Nick Faldo 6 0 6

THE NUMBER

40,427
Career strokes by Jack Nicklaus in the Masters (10,817), U.S.
Open (10,869), British Open (9,754) and PGA Championship (8,987).