June 19, 2009
Strange as it seems, in 1980 people were starting to write off Jack Nicklaus. Since his 1978 British Open win, he'd gone six majors without a victory (though he did place in the top 10 in three of those). Nonetheless, the whispers were starting -- golf has always been a catty sport, you see -- that Nicklaus was done and over with.
But Nicklaus had been working on his swing -- heck, he'd been working on pretty much everything in his game -- and it paid off when he arrived at Baltusrol to play the Open. Nicklaus shot an eight-under 272 to establish a new tournament record.
Significantly, though, Nicklaus didn't make the charge alone. He and Isao Aoki dueled their way through the final two days, with Nicklaus ultimately closing the deal with a putt on 18 to win by two strokes. But even as the crowd celebrated, Nicklaus frantically waved his hands to quiet them down. Aoki, you see, was still in line to receive a $50,000 bonus from for breaking the tournament record, and he hadn't yet putted. Aoki hit the putt to win the bonus, further cementing Nicklaus's position as both premier competitor and premier sportsman.
Memorable Moments at the U.S. Open: 1980 [NBC Sports]