Throwback Thursday: Nicklaus sets scoring records in 1965
Runaway victories in golf are not a common occurrence.
On average, a winner will prevail by one or two shots. In the majors, one shot or even a playoff is usually the norm.
Arnold Palmer won the 1964 Masters by a whopping six strokes over Jack Nicklaus and Dave Marr. It re-established Palmer’s place atop the game and, in particular, his dominance of Augusta National.
But not for long.
A year later, Nicklaus came out firing with 67 in the first round to trail only Gary Player . A second-round 71 left Nicklaus, Player and Palmer tied for first.
The Big Three, as they were called, had the tournament firmly in their hands, and surely a thrilling weekend shootout was on tap. But what happened on the weekend shocked the world of golf, not to mention Player and Palmer.
Nicklaus, after making a slight adjustment in his putting stroke, rolled in a medium-length putt on the second hole of his third round. Another one fell on the fourth. And then again on the sixth. When he birdied seven and eight, the rout was on and the course record of 64, set by Lloyd Mangrum in 1940, was in jeopardy.
Three more birdies on the back nine gave Nicklaus a 64 of his own and left him five clear of Player and eight ahead of Palmer.
Next up was Ben Hogan’s tournament record of 274. Nicklaus took care of that Sunday with a closing 69, and it established a new 72-hole scoring record of 271.
His margin of victory, by nine strokes over Palmer and Player, also shattered the previous mark.
Tournament co-founder Bobby Jones, who knew a thing or two about championship golf, called it the greatest tournament performance in all of golf.
“He plays a game with which I am not familiar,” Jones said.
Nor, at least for one Masters, was anyone else.