Know Jack: Is that anyway to (re)act?

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Jack Nicklaus after tossing his putter in the air upon winning the 1970 Open. (Getty Images)

When you think of Tiger Woods winning an event, you picture a fist pump, an exaltation, palpable energy.

With Jack Nicklaus? A putter raise, maybe two hands lifted in triumph. More joy than jubilation.

But there are two occasions in which Nicklaus got a little carried away. The first occurred at the 1963 Masters. Nicklaus needed to two-putt the final hole for victory but ran his approach putt 3 feet past the hole.

Knowing this putt was for his first Masters victory, Nicklaus curled it in. He then thought to himself, I bet the crowd would like this.

This being a hat throw. As he started to bend down towards the hole, Jack reached for his cap. He paused long enough to retrieve his ball and then flung his headwear. It shot upward and landed about 20 feet in front of him.


Jack: A collection of Nicklaus stories


“I look at film of that, I say that’s the most artificial throw of a hat I’ve ever seen,” Nicklaus says. “I mean, I’m supposed to be excited so, gee, I guess you gotta throw your hat.

“I’m sitting there thinking, ‘You know, man, you big lummox.’ You know, what kind of move is that?”

“I was trying to be part of the crowd,” he adds. “But that was not my personality.”

The second occurrence was even more spontaneous. And nearly brained his competitor.

After defeating Doug Sanders in a playoff – after Sanders missed a shorty to win in regulation – at the 1970 Open at St. Andrews, Nicklaus’ putter shot out of his hand like a missile and Sanders took cover.

“When the putt went in, I just ‘wooed,’” Nicklaus says. “I was so excited. The putter went up in the air. Sanders had to duck, almost came down on top of him. I was a little embarrassed by that. I apologized. What else can you do? Just got a little carried away.”