107th Open - St Andrews 1978
Nicklaus claims his second Home of Golf title
Just to add to his lengthy list of accomplishments, Jack Nicklaus became the first player in the modern era to win two Opens at St Andrews, and the fourth in all after Bob Martin, JH Taylor and James Braid. His third Open title, and 15th Major, came a year after his “Duel in the Sun” with Tom Watson at Turnberry and it was the defending Champion who led, alongside Peter Oosterhuis, with a round to play.
Following a switch in the wind, so that it was against going out and behind coming home for the final round, Watson surprisingly slipped out of contention with a 76 and Oosterhuis had a 73. Instead, The Open seemed to be between Nicklaus and Simon Owen, both of whom had started one behind. Owen was a tall New Zealander who had pre-qualified but with three birdies around the “Loop” and two more at the 14th and the 15th, where he chipped in, he became an unlikely new leader.
But at the 16th there was a two-shot swing in favour of Nicklaus and Owen had a second bogey in a row when he went onto the road over the green at the 17th. Nicklaus made three birdies in his closing 69 but, crucially, he did not drop a stroke and won on a total of 281 by two from Owen, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite.
Isao Aoki had been been among the leaders for the first two days and fellow Japanese player Tommy Nakajima had a putt at the 17th to tie the lead in the third round only to putt into the Road Hole Bunker. After four strokes to escape, he took a 9 and the treacherous bunker became known as the “Sands of Nakajima”. So popular was this Championship that the attendance record was broken by the end of the third day.