Duel in the Sun: Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the Battle of Turnberry

By Michael Corcoran | Go to book overview

THREE

JACK NICKLAUS’S FIRST TWO YEARS OF MAJOR CHAMPIonship play as a professional were extraordinary. At Lytham, he had come within a breath of winning half of the major championships over two seasons—a beginning to a career that remains unmatched to this day. That he did not win the Open Championship in his first two tries is not at all surprising because it stands alone as a test of a golfer’s complete game. Equally unsurprising is that right from the start of his professional career he began gobbling up the major championships played in the United States. They suited his game and mind-set, and more important, having grown up playing in America in a time when the notion of golf as a precision target game was evolving, they were comfortable competitions for him.

To suggest that Nicklaus could not have won the Open Championship in the first or second year of his career would be inane, but the fact that it was the last of the four big championships he conquered—and the one he had the most difficult time winning throughout his career—does offer some indication of the unique place the Open occupies in worldwide competitive golf.

The Masters Tournament is the youngest of the four professional majors. First played in 1934 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, it has marked the beginning of golf’s championship season each competitive year since then. The Masters has the fewest players of the major championships, and while the other majors are administered by golf’s governing bodies and associations, the Masters is run by the Augusta National Golf Club, which invites the players. A golfer cannot play his way into the field via local qualifying tournaments as he might at the U.S. Open or the Open. The criteria for getting an “automatic” invitation from the club are well known to professional golfers, but even these are dispensed at the club’s discretion. The club also invites several amateur champions to com-

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Duel in the Sun: Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the Battle of Turnberry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Prologue 1
  • One 3
  • Two 25
  • Three 49
  • Four 66
  • Five 83
  • Six 109
  • Seven 130
  • Eight 149
  • Nine 158
  • Ten 175
  • Afterword 201
  • Acknowledgments 214
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