March 11th, 1978: Tom Weiskopf withstands The Golden Bear
On this day, In 1978 Tom Weiskopf held off a lare round charge by Jack Nicklaus to win the Doral-Ryder Open. In an absolute duel, Weiskopf & The Golden Bear went back and forth until the final hole at Doral’s Blue Monster. The pair had a lot in common, they both grew up in Columbus, Ohio then attended Ohio State. Weiskopf and Nicklaus had been friends since 1959…
“You always try a little harder when you play with a friend…Not that you’re playing the other guy shot for shot–you always have to play the golf course–but you still play better. And then you talk about it later when you hunt, fish and visit.”
–Tom Weiskopf after the 1978 Doral-Ryder Open
Because of heavy rains on the opening day of the event, the schedule shifted. The first round was completed on Friday, the second round on Saturday, then played 36 holes on Sunday to finish the 72 hole tournament. They even served lunch between the third and fourth rounds on the final day! During the first 18 holes of the final day, Weiskopf shot a 67, five under par, while Nicklaus shot a 72.
A Barrage from Nicklaus
At one point in the final round Jack Nicklaus decided to play three holes without his putter. On the 9th, 10th and 12th holes, Nicklaus threw birdie, eagle, eagle at Weiskopf without a single putt…he sank a 25‐foot chip shot and holed out two pitch shots of 57 and 58 yards. Weiskopf, playing in the same threesome, responded with a run of birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th. Coming down to the last hole, Nicklaus down by one had to make some gambles. While Weiskopf played a safe hole setting up a two putt for a win, Nicklaus had to sink a green-side chip to force a playoff. Nicklaus tried…and failed with his ball just a foot from the pin for a easy par. Weiskopf two putted and mustered a final round of 68, four under par while the Golden Bear shot a 65.
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.