On this day, In 1967 Jack Nicklaus wins the Westchester Classic after hushing Arnie’s Army

Westchester Classic

The Golden Bear silences Arnie’s Army by winning the inaugural Westchester Classic in 1967

By: Josh MorrisJack Nicklaus had a premonition that playing against the banter of Arnie’s Army that it would be difficult to win over the crowd.  He was right to an extent–In 1967 during Westchester Classic , Arnie’s Army was in full force letting Jack hear it at every hole, normally cheering wildly for Palmer and groaning when other players would gain a stroke.  On the final day, the featured threesome was Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Dan Sikes all bidding for the inaugural title.  Dan Sikes was a 35 year-old Florida law graduate and Player Committee Chairman who went virtually unnoticed next to the two giants of the game.  

Arnold and the Army

Unfortunately for the reporters and the army, the Nicklaus vs. Palmer saga faded away earlier than expected when Palmer got himself into trouble early & fizzled away on the front nine.   Sikes had actually withdrawn from the tournament before it was rescheduled, and still somehow ended up with second place money, $30,000.  After Nicklaus was leading virtually the whole day Skies gave him a scare after the turn when they were level, when Sikes rolled in birdies on the 11th and 12th holes.  He fell back a shot from the Golden Bear when he found the sand on the 15th hole and resulted a bogey.  His last gallant effort was a 15 ft putt that lipped the cup and ended Sikes chances for the inaugural title.  Nicklaus is quoted with saying that this about Arnie’s Army, “I’m out there to play golf.  I try to concentrate and ignore them.”  Palmer was obviously displeased with letting the tournament slip away in the early stages and had this to say about his New York fans. “I don’t appreciate this sort of stuff either.  It’s alright when they cheer for somebody, but when they are cheering against players, I think thats bad.”  After it was all said and done, Nicklaus came away from the 1st Westchester Classic victorious claiming a $50,000 first place check in the process.  This brough his season earnings to $156,748 making it the fifth he hit over the $100,000 marker.

“I don’t appreciate this sort of stuff either. It’s alright when they cheer for somebody, but when they are cheering against players, I think thats bad.”

— Arnold Palmer

Josh Morris

Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.

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