It's almost U.S. Open time, and there are few finer courses on Earth than Pebble Beach. Put those two together and you've got yourself a huge chunk of golf memories. As we lead up to the Open, we'll be looking back at the best of Pebble Beach Opens past, and we continue with one of the most dramatic shots in golf history in 1982.
Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were dueling down the stretch of the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, with Nicklaus a few holes ahead. With Nicklaus in the clubhouse, Watson approached the green at 17 tied with the Golden Bear. Watson was coming out of thick rough onto a downhill lie, and caddy Bruce Edwards just tried to talk Watson into keeping the ball close. Watson offered up one of the all-time great replies:
"Close, hell. I'm going to sink it."
And here's what happened:
Watson also birdied the 18th and beat Nicklaus by two strokes. Nicklaus later called it the most painful defeat of his career, noting that if Watson hadn't put that in, it was gone.
Here's a fun yet painful fact: the spot where Watson did that is no more. Storms washed away a large chunk of the 17th green and the 18th tee, taking Watson's historic spot into the ocean. (Another fun fact: Watson and some friends, after having a few drinks, tried to replicate the shot, and nobody could.)
Watson will return to Pebble next week, and we can expect plenty of references to this very moment.
- Jack Nicklaus