1970: Following Doug Sanders missed putt, Jack Nicklaus wins his 2nd Open Championship in an 18 hole playoff


1970 Open Championship Playoff

On this day, In 1970 it was the start of the 18 hole playoff between Doug Sanders and Jack Nicklaus for The Open Championship. Sanders famously had missed a three-foot sidehill putt on the 72 hole to fall into a tie with Nicklaus a day prior.  Now, with the memory of that dreadful putt behind Sanders he had another shot at Nicklaus.

Sanders was hardly a match for the champion Nicklaus, and “by sheer will power he had forced putts into the holes to stay alive.”  Then he made his bid… He got a birdie on the 14th by wedging out of a trap to within four feet for his 4 He shaped an iron shot beautifully to the green and drilled that putt into the cup from 13 feet out. Then Doug made his vital par 4 on the 16th, where Jack’s putt hesitated for seconds on the lip and stayed out to give him his only bogey of the day.

Nicklaus triumphs, Sanders flounders

On the 18th tee, Jack took off his trademark yellow sweater and belted a massive drive down the fairway. Sanders had clawed his way back from being four down to one down playing the 18th.  Jack had enough, he went for broke and eventually chipped close to set up a birdie after the shaky Sanders hit to four feet to no avail.

Nicklaus sank about a seven-foot birdie putt on the 18th playoff hole to win. He won $12,600 today and shot par 72 while Sanders finished one back at 73.  Out of excitement of making the putt, Nicklaus flung his putter into the air for it only to crash down on Sanders head.  Nicklaus brashly apologized and pulled his arm around his opponent to console him.

Sanders defending his head from Jack’s wild putter


  • Incredibly, Nicklaus had not finished outside the Top-6 from 1966 to 1980.
  • This was the first playoff at The Open since 1963 and the first at 18 holes. The previous playoffs were 36 holes on Saturday.
  • 81,000 were said to be in attendance for this 99th Open Championship

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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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