Today in 1966: Jack won his first British Open with a 282 at Muirfield in Scotland. The victory completed the career Grand Slam for the Golden Bear. At the time, he joined only three others as the only men to win all four majors, yet Jack was the fastest among them to do so, winning the Grand Slam in just four years. The significance of that win inspired Jack to name his Ohio home club Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Golden Bear’s 6-iron shot helps pocket $250,000 on one hole as Nicklaus and Watson defend Champions Skins Game title
MAUI, Hawaii—At the age of 71, time is supposed to work against most athletes. Unless you’re Jack Nicklaus.
Because, as Jack said, “timing” not time “is everything.”
Conjuring up images from decades past and reminding us all who is the greatest to have played the game of golf, Jack Nicklaus stole the show at the Champions Skins Game along with five skins and $250,000 with one swing. The Golden Bear’s 6-iron from 137 yards into a windswept 17th green set up an 8-foot birdie putt for Tom Watson, as the team of Nicklaus and Watson defended their title Sunday with seven total skins and $310,000 in the Ka'anapali Champions Skins Game
The winning duo were the first on the boards Saturday when they won the first two skins for $60,000, but they were quiet from that point on—or as Jack joked, “We hadn’t been in here for 15 holes”—until the 17th. With four holes carried over and five skins worth $250,000 on the line, the oldest but most decorated player in a field of eight Hall-of-Famers and golf greats, was the last to tee off on the par-3 17th. Two teams were off the green, and the team of Mark O’Meara and Bernhard Langer were about 12 feet shy of the pin after O’Meara’s tee shot.
“From 137 yards, normally with a little wind you take a little 7-iron,” explained Nicklaus, who nine days prior turned 71. “I took a 6, because I didn’t want to put any spin on it. I sort of hit a dead ball up there and it just sort of fluttered around in the air.”
“It didn’t flutter,” Watson interrupted. “It was just like a bullet out there.”
“It was all right,” conceded a smiling Golden Bear.
The ball settled to about 8 feet short of the cup, setting up Watson’s putt that broke just enough to fall into the right-center of the cup for the payday and the victory. In his 21st appearance in the Champions Skins Game, Jack recorded his fifth victory in the event (1991, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011), and the third with Watson. It was the eighth straight appearance in the event for Watson, 61, and his fourth victory (2004, 2007, 2010, 2011).
The team of O’Meara and Langer (the 2010 Jack Nicklaus Award winner as the Champions Tour Player of the Year) finished second with seven skins and $300,000, with $100,000 of that coming after it took two playoff holes to determine a winner of the 18th. They were followed by the teams of Fuzzy Zoeller-Ben Crenshaw and Fred Couples-Nick Price, with two skins and $80,000 each.
“What Jack did winning this thing was incredible,” said the 51-year-old Couples.
Since the Kaanapali Champions Skins Game switched to a team format in 2006, the Nicklaus-Watson team has been formidable, especially on the front nine. Watson's short birdie putt on the secpnd hole Saturday gave the duo 27 total skins on the front nine. In 2006, Nicklaus-Watson captured eight skins and $260,000 on the opening nine, but wound up finishing second in the overall event. In 2007, Nicklaus-Watson got two skins and $60,000 (tied for first with Ray Floyd/Dana Quigley) on the first day and wound up winning with nine total skins. In 2008, Nicklaus-Watson claimed eight skins and $270,000 of the first nine holes, but finished second in the overall event. Last year, Nicklaus-Watson claimed seven skins on the front nine and $220,000. They eventually added three more skins on the back nine and $130,000 to win the competition with a total of $350,000.