Jack William Nicklaus is, indisputably, the greatest golfer of all time.

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Winner of 117 professional tournaments, including 73 on the PGA Tour, Nicklaus was the most dominant player in history. “Jack knew he was going to beat you,” said 1973 British Open champion Tom Weiskopf.  “You knew Jack was going to beat you.  And Jack knew that you knew that he was going to beat you.”

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The Golden Bear was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner eight times, was a five-time Player of the Year and played on six Ryder Cup teams.  Jack saved the Ryder Cup by suggesting the format change that led to the inclusion of Europe, rather than only the U.K.  He also elevated the importance of golf’s four major championships — the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA — in the consciousness of golf fans.

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Although Nicklaus won 73 PGA Tour events, third-most of all time behind Sam Snead and Tiger Woods, it was his performance in majors that set Jack apart.  He won a record 18 majors in a span of 25 years, and was runner-up in 19 more [also a record].  In all, Nicklaus had 46 top-three finishes in majors.

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Jack turned pro at the 1962 U.S. Open, where he beat Arnold Palmer in a playoff to become, at 22,  the youngest U.S. Open champion in history.  It was his first professional victory.  His last win was also a major, when he won his record sixth Masters at age 46, in 1986.

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Nicklaus had at least one top-ten finish in a major championship each year from 1960 to 1983.  He finished in the top five at the Open Championship every year from 1970 to 1980, and was runner-up at the Open Championship a record seven times.

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The Golden Bear won at least one major in four consecutive years, and claimed two majors in the same season three times.  In his 18 majors victories, Nicklaus shot 56 rounds at even par or below.

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Jack has the most top-ten finishes in majors history, with 73.  That’s 25 more than Snead — who is second on the list – and 27 more than Tom Watson, who is third.

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Nicklaus won every major at least three times, and won a record six Masters titles [two more than Arnie and Tiger, who are second with four each].  He earned three of those Green Jackets in his first five trips to Augusta as a professional.

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The U.S. Open is the most difficult tournament in the world.  The course set-up is brutal, with firm, fast greens, narrow fairways, and rough so high you can lose your golf bag in it.  Jack won a total of four U.S. Opens in three different decades [both records], and shot a record 37 rounds under par.

The most decorated champion in Masters history ruled Augusta National.  Jack is the event’s first back-to-back winner [1966], was it’s youngest winner [23, since broken by Woods], and is the oldest [46] Masters champ in history.  He holds the record for most Masters birdies [506], most eagles [24] and missed only one cut [1967] in 34 consecutive years.

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Perhaps the fiercest competitor in history, Jack had sole possession of the lead after three rounds in eight majors over the course of his career.  He won them all.  The first to break 270 in a major championship, he finished in the top-five a record 56 times.

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Winner of the U.S. Amateur in 1959 and 1961, Nicklaus won eight major championships on the Senior Tour.  He also won the Player’s Championship – golf’s “fifth major” – three times in his brilliant career.

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On this date in 1971, Jack Nicklaus beat Gary Player by eight shots to win the Tournament of Champions at La Costa Country Club.  It was the 35th Tour win of his career.  His 9-under-par 279 earned him the $ 33,000 winner’s check, helping Nicklaus lead the Tour in prize money in 1971.

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