1984: Jack Nicklaus wins The Memorial Tournament in a playoff over Andy Bean

Nicklaus wins in a playoff over Andy Bean

On this day, In 1984 Jack Nicklaus gained his 70th PGA Tour victory and winning the ninth annual Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.  Nicklaus carded a par on the third playoff hole to secure the victory.  Bean missed a 3-foot putt to take a bogey 5 and second place. He and Bean had tied at 8-under-par 280 for the regulation 72 holes.

”Winning the Memorial means more to me than the majors, in a way,” Nicklaus said. ”It’s because of the town, the people who put in so much time, the course we built and the effort I’ve put in on this tournament.”

Nicklaus, born and raised in nearby Columbus, was cheered loudly by many thousands of his fans from the hometown crowd. With this win he also became the first man to win his own Memorial Tournament twice. He won the second tournament here in 1977.

Bean shot a 67 on the final day to tie Nicklaus, the only man in this tournament to shoot four rounds below par. He had 70 today after 69, 70 and 71.

Nicklaus received $90,000 for the win, which pushed his career earnings to over 4 million.  This was his first win in two years and even then it was looking dreary for the Golden Bear after a mistake on the 71st hole of regulation.

”It’s been two long years,” Nicklaus said, ”and I can’t think of any place I would rather break that string than right here.”

After halving the first two playoff holes at No. 15 and No. 16, Bean suffered his second playoff loss of the year. He was beaten on the first extra hole in the Honda Classic in Florida by Bruce Lietzke earlier that year.

Then Nicklaus hit his drive at No. 17 way out of bounds. He hit his second drive on the fairway at 17, hit his approach 32 feet short of the hole, then sank that putt, so he fell only a shot behind Bean with one hole left in regulation.

Then Nicklaus pushed his drive into an island of deep rough in a bunker at 18, while Bean drove the left rough. They both got on the green in three, but Nicklaus sank a 5-foot par putt while Bean missed a 4-foot par putt, setting up the playoff. The final regulation par at 18 was a spectacular achievement for Nicklaus because, after going into that rough, he pulled his 8-iron second shot left of the green, down a steep embankment of rough. He hit a wedge close to save par.

”Then at the 17th again, I was standing there just waiting for Andy to putt out so we could go on to the next playoff hole,” Nicklaus said of the playoff. ”When he missed, it was a funny feeling. Usually when you win, you do because you do something. I didn’t.”

But Nicklaus did do something. He took the lead at the first hole, lost it with a poor drive at the 17th, and regained his composure enough to win.

”I’ve said I’ll play this game as long as I can compete the way I feel I should,” Nicklaus said. ”I’ve even thought maybe I was getting too old. Now, I just happen to think I’m going to win some more majors.”

The next major is the United States Open at Winged Foot starting June 14. Nicklaus has won four United States Opens. The 1962 Open was his first triumph as a pro, when he beat Arnold Palmer in the 18-hole playoff. The oldest winner of an Open was Ted Ray, who won in 1920 at 43.

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