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Jay Busbee

St. Andrews lore: Remembering Nicklaus' 1970 playoff masterpiece

The Open Championship is back at St. Andrews, and to commemorate the occasion, we're looking back on some of the best Opens held at the august course. (Nearly 30 of them have played out here, you know.) Today, Jack Nicklaus' last-minute triumph.

Jack Nicklaus has won "only" three British Opens, but through the '60s and '70s, he was as dominant as any player ever, always in the mix. He finished in the top 5 16 times and in second place seven times. He won his first in 1966, and in 1970, he was coming off a brief career downturn. His father had passed away just a few months earlier.

The 1970 Open was played under conditions that ranged to the brutal — 56-mph winds, for instance — and when it was all over, Nicklaus and Doug Sanders stood together atop the leaderboard. It was time for a playoff!

During the playoff, Nicklaus surged out to as far as four strokes ahead of Sanders. But at the 18th, Sanders was down by just one. Let's pick it up there with a little classic video:

It's tough to imagine now, but Nicklaus' drive over 18 was the stuff of legend at the time, and his chip back onto the green was almost as impressive. He's also lucky he didn't brain himself or someone else with that flying putter at the end. Nicklaus would go on to win again at St. Andrews in 1978, this time without the need for a playoff.

Next up: Seve!

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