It’s no breaking news that Jack Nicklaus’ first professional victory was the 1962 U.S. Open, in a playoff at Oakmont over local hero Arnold Palmer.
But No. 1 could have come a little bit earlier in the year.
Nicklaus was in contention at the Houston Classic, when: “I think it was the [par-3] seventh hole, last round, and I had about a 20-foot putt. And my caddie was Robert Ford. Good guy. He held the pin for me and as he held the pin I hit the putt. He lifted the pin, couldn’t get it out of the hole and lifted the cup right out with it.”
Instead of making the putt, Nicklaus’ ball hit the protrusion. Two-shot penalty.
“So now, instead of making a two, I make a five and ended up tying the tournament and lost in a playoff.”
Bobby Nichols defeated Nicklaus and Dan Sikes in extra holes. But Jack didn’t hold a grudge.
“I had him again the next year caddie for me,” Nicklaus says. “That was not his fault. That was as much my fault as anybody else’s. But anyway …”
Sometimes, it’s best to let fate determine things. Making the U.S. Open win No. 1 is far more fitting for Jack Nicklaus.