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Posted February 17, 2012, 5:16 pm
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Jack Nicklaus - 1975

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    Jack Nicklaus - 1975
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    Jack Nicklaus leapt for joy after making birdie on No. 16 on Sunday.

Jack Nicklaus was at the height of his considerable powers in 1975.

He was No. 1 in major championship wins, not to mention the top player and most respected competitor in the game.

Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller, each with a major victory to his credit, were also at their peaks that year.

The three men - no one else was really close on the weekend - combined to stage one of the most memorable Masters of all time.

First, some background:

Nicklaus set a blistering pace in the first two rounds with scores of 68 and 67.

Weiskopf, already a three-time Masters runner-up, was six back. And Miller, one of the pretournament favorites, was 11 back.

That all changed in Saturday's third round as Nicklaus stumbled to 73. That left the door open for Weiskopf (66) and Miller (65) to get back into contention.

What transpired in the final round was one of the great shootouts in Masters history.

After the first nine, Nicklaus and Weiskopf were tied for the lead, with Miller two back. The three jockeyed for position on the back nine until Nicklaus pulled ahead with two clutch birdies on the 15th and 16th holes.

The first, at the par-5 15th, was a routine two-putt after Nicklaus had lashed a 1-iron 15 feet from the pin. The one at No. 16 was a shocker, though: Nicklaus holed from 40 feet and then broke into a celebratory trot around the green.

Just before Nicklaus' putt, Weiskopf had birdied the par-5 15th as well.

That sent the gallery into a frenzy, and CBS announcer Ben Wright said, "That is evil music ringing in Nicklaus' ears.''

But when Nicklaus responded with his unlikely birdie, Henry Longhurst described it this way:

"That has to be the greatest putt I ever saw in my life. And now Weiskopf will have to take it as he dished it out before.''

Shaken, Weiskopf made bogey at 16 to fall one behind Nicklaus. Miller made birdie at the 17th to pull within one.

On the 18th, both men had chances to send the tournament to a playoff, but each missed from inside 10 feet, securing a record fifth green jacket for Nicklaus.

Even Nicklaus, who had seen his share of memorable golf, knew he had just been part of something special.

"In all the time I have played golf, I thought this was the most exciting display I had ever seen,'' he said.