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EXCERPT | March 27, 1978
Jack Roars Back
At Sawgrass, Jack Nicklaus finished a remarkable run
March 14, 2010
Jack Nicklaus had won a total of just five tournaments in 1976 and '77, none of them major championships. But with a hot start in '78 the Golden Bear once again was the player to watch. Dan Jenkins reported for SI.
It was that same Sawgrass music again. Dueling bogeys. And it was the same Jack Nicklaus again. There has never been anything quite so spectacular in the world of professional golf as what Jack has been up to lately. Not since the gutta met the percha, anyway. If you wanted to look for a pattern to it last week at Sawgrass, you had to start out by taking A1A to the first swamp on your left, then chartering a canoe and asking to be dropped off at the factory where they make grits out of lost Titleists.
The big news from Sawgrass and the Tournament Players Championship was that Nicklaus won another title without making birdies or eagles out of everything but the loose change in his pockets. At Sawgrass, which is just down the coast from Jacksonville, a man is lucky even to make pars, and Jack made enough of those in Sunday's final round to shoot a 75 and beat Lou Graham and all those other guys who were charging after him with their backup lights on.
Nicklaus's one-shot triumph concluded a fascinating stretch of golf over a period that he has for some time considered his "Masters preparation." In Jack's past four tournaments he has finished second, first, second and first, in that order. Nicklaus now will fish, rest and work on his game this week in the Dominican Republic, and then spend all next week practicing at Augusta for the following week's Masters.
Nicklaus finished seventh at Augusta but won the British Open at St. Andrews in July. In December, SI honored him as Sportsman of the Year.
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