Nicklaus claims his second Home of Golf title
It was 16 years since Jack Nicklaus had won his first US Open Championship and eight since he had triumphed at St Andrews in a play-off against the hapless Doug Sanders, who had missed a short putt on the final green to take the title. Nicklaus had won 14 major titles by the time he arrived in St Andrews in 1978, but none since 1975, although he had missed out by only a single shot at Turnberry the year before in the marvellous head-to-head encounter with Tom Watson, who had two final rounds of 65.
And it was Watson who led as play entered the final day at St Andrews. He was joined at the head of the pack by Britain’s Peter Oosterhuis, but just one shot behind lay Nicklaus, together with New Zealander Simon Owen, Ben Crenshaw and Isao Aoki. With a switch in the wind direction Watson’s form deserted him and he slipped right out of the frame with a 76. Oosterhuis could manage no better than 73, matched by Aoki. Crenshaw stayed in the hunt with a 71 and was joined by Tom Kite and Ray Floyd.
But the battle for honours was being conducted in the pairing of Nicklaus and Owen. The tall New Zealander holed a chip shot at the 15th to take a one shot advantage, but when Nicklaus holed a six-foot birdie putt at the next after a nine-iron approach, Owen three-putted and the American went ahead. Nicklaus increased his lead with a cast-iron four at the 17th and yet another major victory entered the record books under his name.