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Open Insight

Regular runners-up


The players who have finished second most often at The Open

Jack Nicklaus at The 101st Open in 1972

Two of The Open’s most prolific winners also hold the distinction of being the men with the most runner-up finishes at golf’s original Championship.

Jack Nicklaus lifted the Claret Jug on three occasions, first triumphing at Muirfield in 1966 before enjoying further successes at St Andrews in 1970 and 1978.

Yet the Golden Bear was also second at The Open on a remarkable seven occasions.

The first of his runner-up finishes came in 1964 at the home of golf. Nicklaus finished five strokes behind Tony Lema on that occasion before also finishing second in 1967, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977 and 1979.

His most famous near-miss came in 1977, as Tom Watson won the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry by a single shot. Nicklaus finished with brilliant rounds of 65 and 66 to be a whopping 10 strokes clear of the third-placed Hubert Green, but even that was not quite enough to get the better of Watson.

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977

Nicklaus’ extraordinary consistency at The Open extended beyond his 10 top-two finishes at golf’s original Championship. He posted top-six placings in a remarkable 15 consecutive years from 1966, while he did not finish outside the top four in nine successive appearances from 1972 to 1980.

The only man to have come close to Nicklaus’ tally of second-place finishes at The Open is fellow great J.H. Taylor, who was a runner-up six times in addition to his five victories.

Five-time Champion Golfer J.H. Taylor

Taylor also holds the record for the most successive years as a runner-up, having been second four years running between 1904 and 1907.


Most runner-up or joint runner-up finishes in The Open

7: Jack Nicklaus, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1979

6: J.H Taylor, 1896, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1914


Most successive runner-up or joint runner-up finishes

4: J.H Taylor, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907

3: Harry Vardon, 1900, 1901, 1902

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