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The Vault
June 22, 2009
Every SI Story ... Every SI Photo ... Ever SI.COM/VAULT
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June 22, 2009

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Every SI Story ... Every SI Photo ... Ever SI.COM/VAULT

EXCERPT | Sports Illustrated, June 26, 1967

Runaway Bear

Jack Nicklaus closed 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 the Open, Jack found his form against his rival.

The drama of Nicklaus's memorable triumph was heavily accentuated by the accidental theatrics of the head-to-head pairing with Arnold Palmer during those two final, climactic rounds. It was a me-against-you confrontation that had been a long time coming—and the spectacle was worth the wait.

As they started down the first fairway Saturday afternoon, Nicklaus was a stroke back of Palmer. Bill Casper, the defending champion, was one behind Nicklaus. But the shot-against-shot duel that the gallery of 19,598 anticipated with such relish quickly deteriorated into something resembling the consolation round at a taxi drivers' golf outing. Not since 1962, in the Open at Oakmont, had Palmer and Nicklaus been paired in a major championship while having a chance to win. The opportunity to get at each other was more than their golf swings could bear. By the time they reached the 8th tee they had thrashed their way through so much trouble that they had surrendered the lead by two strokes to Casper. At that point Jack turned to Arnold and said, "Let's stop playing each other and play the golf course."

Over the last 20 holes Palmer was to post only one bogey, a performance that could have presented his Army with the victory it screamed for, but Nicklaus was to make a phenomenal 10 birdies. When Nicklaus is at the top of his game, he cannot be beaten.

Nicklaus, who shot a tournament-record 275, would win two more Opens. In 1980 he lowered his mark to 272, a score only three others have tied.

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