As the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, turns 74 on Tuesday, he can reflect on an incredibly blessed life. His 18 career majors make him the greatest golfer ever, his 17 grandchildren make him one of the proudest grandfathers around, and his Nicklaus Design company continues to make him a thriving businessman.
Related Link: Photos – Jack Nicklaus Turns 74
Surely there are too many to count, but here nine of Jack Nicklaus’ greatest highlights:
1960, Wedding Day – As a freshman at Ohio State University in 1957, Nicklaus experienced a chance meeting with a beautiful girl named Barbara. Three years later they were married, and in his autobiography, Nicklaus wrote, “I shudder to think about where I would be today, what I might have missed, how less fulfilling my life would have been were Barbara not with me every step of the way.”
1962 U.S. Open – After winning two U.S. Amateur titles in 1959 and ’61, which were considered majors at the time, Nicklaus turned pro late in ’61 and competed as a professional in the U.S. Open for the first time in 1962 at Oakmont Country Club. It took an 18-hole playoff, but he defeated that year’s Masters champ, superstar Arnold Palmer. That marked Nicklaus’ first professional victory, and these days, it is counted as the first of his 18 majors.
1966 Open Championship – By the time Nicklaus arrived at Muirfield for the 95th Open Championship, he owned a total of five major titles, and at least one from the three other major tournaments. But he completed his first “Career Slam” by taking the Claret Jug in 1966, the first of three such trophies he’d collect.
1973 PGA Championship – Nicklaus’ ascension continued into the 1970s, and by taking the 1973 PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in his home state of Ohio, he surpassed Walter Hagen for the most career majors; Nicklaus’ four-stroke victory gave him his 12th. And if you want to count amateur titles, he became the all-time leader in that category too, with his 14 eclipsing Bobby Jones’ 13. Nicklaus was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
1976, Nicklaus Design – He began dabbling in golf course design in the mid-1960s, and Nicklaus produced his first solo-design course in 1976 at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. That course has since played host to more Canadian Opens than any other course in the country, and it’s the home of the Canadian Golf Museum and Hall of Fame, as well as the headquarters for the Royal Canadian Golf Association. In all, the Nicklaus Design company has nearly 400 courses open for play across the country, and Nicklaus has been involved with the design of 290.
1980 PGA Championship – As Nicklaus reached his 40th birthday, coming off a year in which he didn’t collect a single PGA Tour win, many figured his glory days were behind him. But then he went out and set a new tournament scoring record at the 1980 U.S. Open, and tied three others for the most U.S. Open wins in history. Two months later, Nicklaus collected a second major that year (and 17th overall) at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. It marked his fifth PGA title, tying him with Hagen for the most ever.
1986 Masters – Nicklaus’ greatest triumph of all time may have been his final major victory. The 46-year-old started the final round of the 1986 Masters four shots behind leader Greg Norman. But with a birdie on 13, an eagle at 15, and birdies at both 16 and 17, Nicklaus edged Norman and Tom Kite by a stroke. That gave him an all-time record six Masters victories, and his 18th and final major.
2002, Jack Nicklaus Museum – To recognize Nicklaus’ illustrious career, his alma mater, Ohio State, opened the Jack Nicklaus Museum in May 2002 on the school’s campus. The educational and historical facility highlights the history of golf and displays trophies, photographs and mementos from his 115 career professional wins.
2014, BCS National Championship – The proud father of five children, who have produced 17 grandkids for Jack and Barbara, Nicklaus was on hand earlier this month in Pasadena, Calif., at the Rose Bowl to watch his grandson, Nick O’Leary, capture the BCS National Championship as a tight end for Florida State. Nicklaus has accomplished much in his 74 years, but his biggest victories are now those of his family’s.
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