95th Open - Muirfield 1966
First of three for Nicklaus
There was little surprise that Jack Nicklaus won The Open at Muirfield in 1966, only that it had taken him so long. It was his fifth appearance and he had already won five other Majors. This victory completed his set of all four, something only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player had previously achieved, but Nicklaus had done it by the age of 26. He also matched Hogan and Arnold Palmer in doing the double of the Masters and The Open in the same year.
For the first time The Championship was extended to four days, running from Wednesday to Saturday, which was welcomed by players and spectators alike. The narrow fairways and deep rough was not liked quite so much by the competitors and Nicklaus took the lead with scores of 70 and 67. However, he dropped four shots in the last five holes for a 75 in the third round and fell behind fellow American Phil Rodgers.
Nicklaus took control again by going out in 33 in the final round, while Rodgers slumped to a 76 and Palmer fell out of contention with a 7 at the 10th hole. The colourfully-attired Doug Sanders chipped in from 60 yards for an eagle at the ninth only to take a 6 at the 11th. He finished with a 70 to tie Dave Thomas, the Welshman collecting two 2s and a 3 coming home for a 69. Nicklaus, after three bogeys in four holes from the 11th, needed to play the last two holes with a pair of 4s and duly secured a birdie at the 17th and a par at the last to win by one. It was a second runner-up finish for Thomas, who lost a play-off to Peter Thomson in 1958, and the first of two second places to Nicklaus for Sanders.