1972 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Winner and Scores

The 1972 U.S. Open was the 72nd time the tournament was played, and Jack Nicklaus earned his third championship.

Winner: Jack Nicklaus, 290

Where it was played: Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California

Tournament dates: June 15-18, 1972

Leader after first round: Kermit Zarley, Jack Nicklaus, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Tom Shaw, Mason Rudolph and Orville Moody, 71

Leader after second round: Bruce Crampton, Jack Nicklaus, Kermit Zarley, Homero Blancas, Lanny Wadkins and Cesar Sanudo, 144

Leader after third round: Jack Nicklaus, 216

What Happened at the 1972 U.S. Open

The 1972 U.S. Open was the first U.S. Open ever played at Pebble Beach Golf Links. And it was the third one won by Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus became just the fourth golfer all-time to win this major three times or more. He eventually won a fourth (at the 1980 U.S. Open), tying Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan for the most wins.

The 1972 U.S. Open is notable as the last major championship in which Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer battled head-to-head, although that battle was in a relatively brief stretch of the final round.

In its history of the 1972 U.S. Open, the USGA describes what happened:

"... In the final round, a double-bogey 6 left (Nicklaus) just two strokes in front of Arnold Palmer. A key moment came as Nicklaus stood over an 8-foot bogey putt at the par-3 12th right at the time Palmer lined up a 10-foot birdie at 14. Nicklaus converted and Palmer didn't. Not realizing he trailed by only one shot, Palmer played too aggressively over the next two holes and bogeyed each one to eventually finish with a 4-over 76, four strokes off Nicklaus' winning score."
Nicklaus' last pursuer was Bruce Crampton, but Nicklaus finished off the win with what many consider one of the best shots in U.S. Open history. On the tee at the par-3 17th, Nicklaus held a three-stroke lead. He removed any doubt about the win by carving a 1-iron through the blustery wind. The ball hit the green, bounced once, and struck the flagstick, settling inches away.

Nicklaus shot 71 in the first round, good for a 6-way share of the lead. After a second-round 73, Nicklaus was still in the lead, and the lead was still shared by six players.

But a 72 in the third round gave Nicklaus the outright lead, one stroke ahead of three pursuers, Crampton, Kermit Zarley and defending champ Lee Trevino. Palmer was tied for fifth, two off the lead. Nicklaus' final-round 74, though, was easily the best among those contenders: Trevino, for example, shot 78 and Zarley 79. (Trevino began the tournament just two days after being released from a hospital, where he had been treated for pneumonia.) This was one of four majors in which Crampton finished runner-up to Nicklaus.

The fourth-round scoring average for the field was 78.8, the highest final-round scoring average in the post-World War II era. Nicklaus' winning total of 290 is the second-highest winning total since World War II.

The win here was Nicklaus' 11th victory in a professional major championship, tying Walter Hagen's record for most wins in the pro majors. Counting his two U.S. Amateur wins, it was Nicklaus' 13th combined (amateur and pro) win in a major, tying Bobby Jones' then-record for most combined wins in pro/amateur majors.

Nicklaus had won the 1972 Masters a couple months earlier, but his quest for three in a row came up just short at the 1972 British Open.

Future 8-time major championship winner Tom Watson played his first U.S. Open and tied for 29th. Hubert Green, winner of the 1977 U.S. Open, also had his tournament debut here, finishing 55th.

1972 U.S. Open Final Scores

Jack Nicklaus 71-73-72-74—290
Bruce Crampton 74-70-73-76—293
Arnold Palmer 77-68-73-76—294
Homero Blancas 74-70-76-75—295
Lee Trevino 74-72-71-78—295
Kermit Zarley 71-73-73-79—296
Johnny Miller 74-73-71-79—297
Tom Weiskopf 73-74-73-78—298
Chi Chi Rodriguez 71-75-78-75—299
Cesar Sanudo 72-72-78-77—299
Billy Casper 74-73-79-74—300
Don January 76-71-74-79—300
Bobby Nichols 77-74-72-77—300
Bert Yancey 75-79-70-76—300
Don Massengale 72-81-70-78—301
Orville Moody 71-77-79-74—301
Gary Player 72-74-75-80—301
a-Jim Simons 75-75-79-72—301
Lou Graham 75-73-75-79—302
a-Tom Kite 75-73-79-75—302
Al Geiberger 80-74-76-73—303
Paul Harney 79-72-75-77—303
Bobby Mitchell 74-80-73-76—303
Charles Sifford 79-74-72-78—303
Gay Brewer 77-77-72-78—304
Rod Funseth 73-73-84-74—304
Lanny Wadkins 76-68-79-81—304
Jim Wiechers 74-79-69-82—304
Miller Barber 76-76-73-80—305
Julius Boros 77-77-74-77—305
Dave Eichelberger 76-71-80-78—305
Lee Elder 75-71-79-80—305
Jerry Heard 73-74-77-81—305
Dave Hill 74-78-74-79—305
Tom Watson 74-79-76-76—305
Brian Allin 75-76-77-78—306
Larry Hinson 78-73-72-83—306
Hale Irwin 78-72-73-83—306
Barry Jaeckel 78-69-82-77—306
Ron Cerrudo 77-77-76-77—307
Tony Jacklin 75-78-71-83—307
Jerry McGee 79-72-71-85—307
George Rives 80-73-79-75—307
Mason Rudolph 71-80-86-70—307
Tom Shaw 71-79-80-77—307
Billy Ziobro 76-77-77-77—307
Bobby Cole 72-76-79-81—308
Gibby Gilbert 77-77-77-77—308
David Graham 77-77-79-75—308
Ron Letellier 75-77-74-82—308
John Schroeder 78-75-75-80—308
Mike Butler 78-73-77-81—309
Tom Jenkins 73-80-75-81—309
Ralph Johnston 74-72-79-84—309
Tommy Aaron 76-76-77-81—310
Martin Bohen 77-76-77-80—310
Bob Brue 77-75-79-79—310
Tim Collins 79-71-81-79—310
Hubert Green 75-76-78-81—310
Bobby Greenwood 77-75-72-86—310
Jim Hardy 78-76-79-77—310
Mike Hill 75-77-75-83—310
Jim Colbert 74-79-76-82—311
Bob Murphy 79-74-83-75—311
George Archer 74-74-77-87—312
Bruce Devlin 75-78-74-85—312
Dick Hendrickson 80-74-79-82—315
Austin Straub 76-77-75-87—315
Dwight Nevil 76-77-81-82—316
a-Dan O'Neill 78-76-77-86—317

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