Know Jack: 18 or 20 majors?

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Jack Nicklaus after winning the 1973 PGA Championship. (Getty Images)

Jack Nicklaus isn’t sure exactly when it happened. It may have been in the mid-'90s, when Tiger Woods won three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. It may have been a decade or two earlier.

But somewhere along the line, Nicklaus’ pair of U.S. Am victories stopped counting towards his major total.

“When I won the Amateurs, they were considered major,” he says. “I’m not really sure what happened.”

When Nicklaus won the 1973 PGA Championship at Canterbury, it gave him 14 major wins, including the two Ams. That officially surpassed Bobby Jones’ all-time mark of 13 (Four U.S. Opens, three Opens, five U.S. Amateurs and one British Amateur).


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Nicklaus added six more major trophies to his collection, giving him 20 – or 18 as a professional, plus two as an amateur.

How does he view the mark?

“I don’t think the Amateur is a major today,” Nicklaus says. “I think 18’s probably the right number.

“It was a major when Jones did it. I’m sitting on the cusp of that. I mean, you could give me 18 or 20, you know. I don’t think you could give Tiger 14 or 17.

“I don’t think it was really a major when Tiger played it.”