1970: Jack Nicklaus beats Arnold Palmer in a playoff at the Byron Nelson Classic

Byron Nelson Classic
Byron Nelson presenting the trophy to Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus vs. Palmer: The 1970 Byron Nelson Classic

The 1970 Byron Nelson Classic was every golf fan’s dream, a showdown between the two titans of the sport.  It was none other than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, of course playing their way through the 6,854 yard Preston Trails Golf Club.  When a Thursday rainout forced a 36-hole Sunday, “Arnie’s Army” was in full force as golf’s most popular players went head to head. Palmer, 10 years older than Nicklaus, wasn’t thrilled with a 36-hole finale. Nicklaus, 30, said he could go all day if necessary.


Fact: Nicklaus would defend his title at The Byron Nelson Classic just a year later.  He and Tom Watson are the only to do this.  Even better Tom Watson is the only man to win The Byron Nelson Classic three years in a row.


Nicklaus had led the tournament until Palmer drew even after thirty-six holes. The playoff started at the Par 5,  555 yard 15th hole which The Golden Bear’s strength was tested and came to his rescue.  Nicklaus was hole high in two while Palmer made it onto the green safely after three shots.  The deft touch of the wedge saw Nicklaus only 18 inches from the hole with his third shot, which put the pressure on Palmer.  Arnie had a 12 footer for his 4 which he missed as Nicklaus confidently tapped in for his birdie & the win.  Palmer said after the event he was, “Damn Tired.”  Nicklaus would come away with $20,000 of the $100,000 purse.

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