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This is an article from the June 22, 2009 issue
EXCERPT | SportsIllustrated, June 26, 1967
Jack Nicklausclosed strong to win his second U.S. Open
Nicklaus, at 27,had missed the cut at the '67 Masters, and his year's earnings were only$31,321, a third of Arnold Palmer's. But, in Alfred Wright's account of theOpen, Jack found his form against his rival.
The drama ofNicklaus's memorable triumph was heavily accentuated by the accidentaltheatrics of the head-to-head pairing with Arnold Palmer during those twofinal, climactic rounds. It was a me-against-you confrontation that had been along time coming—and the spectacle was worth the wait.
As they starteddown the first fairway Saturday afternoon, Nicklaus was a stroke back ofPalmer. Bill Casper, the defending champion, was one behind Nicklaus. But theshot-against-shot duel that the gallery of 19,598 anticipated with such relishquickly deteriorated into something resembling the consolation round at a taxidrivers' golf outing. Not since 1962, in the Open at Oakmont, had Palmer andNicklaus been paired in a major championship while having a chance to win. Theopportunity to get at each other was more than their golf swings could bear. Bythe time they reached the 8th tee they had thrashed their way through so muchtrouble that they had surrendered the lead by two strokes to Casper. At thatpoint Jack turned to Arnold and said, "Let's stop playing each other andplay the golf course."
Over the last 20holes Palmer was to post only one bogey, a performance that could havepresented his Army with the victory it screamed for, but Nicklaus was to make aphenomenal 10 birdies. When Nicklaus is at the top of his game, he cannot bebeaten.
Nicklaus, who shota tournament-record 275, would win two more Opens. In 1980 he lowered his markto 272, a score only three others have tied.
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Golf.com'stee-to-tee coverage of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black includes Damon Hack'sreflection on the 17th hole at the 2002 event:
The gallery wasbuzzing when Tiger Woods appeared. He hit a six-iron, but I lost his ball inthe sky. Then, like magic, it dropped within eight feet of the pin, and anotherroar brought the goose bumps back. This was different from the cheering forMickelson. Phil's was a from-the-gut scream for an underdog. Tiger's was theacknowledgement of genius—as if Frank Sinatra had walked into your local barand started singing Summer Wind.
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