Jack Nicklaus' Record in Playoffs and All the Scores

Jack Nicklaus had a good record in playoffs on the PGA Tour, as you'd expect. But some of you probably expect his playoff record to better than it actually was. In this article, we'll go over that record: every PGA Tour playoff Nicklaus played, who was in it with him, and the outcomes of them all.

How many playoffs did Jack Nicklaus play on the PGA Tour? Answer: 24.

What was Nicklaus' playoff record? He won 14 of those playoffs and lost 10.

Which golfers beat Nicklaus in a playoff? Bobby Nichols, Dan Sikes*, Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros*, Doug Sanders, Gardner Dickinson, Lee Trevino, Bobby Mitchell, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite.

Now, if you were counting, you noticed that we listed more than 10 golfers who beat Nicklaus in a PGA Tour playoff, even though Nicklaus had only 10 such losses. The asterisks (*) explain: Those players didn't win the playoff, but did finish ahead of Nicklaus in 18-hole, stroke-play playoffs.

Jack Nicklaus' Major Championship Playoffs

In four major championship playoffs, Nicklaus had three wins and one loss.

1962 U.S. Open: One of the most-famous playoffs in golf history because it matched the then-winless Nicklaus against superstar Arnold Palmer, and on Palmer's home turf in Pennsylvania at Oakmont. It was an 18-hole playoff and Nicklaus won by three strokes, 71 to 74.

1966 Masters: This three-man, 18-hole playoff went to Nicklaus by two strokes over Tommy Jacobs, 70 to 72. Gay Brewer, the third man, shot 78.

1970 British Open: Nicklaus played Doug Sanders, who had beaten him in a playoff five years earlier (see below), over 18 holes. Nicklaus only got into the playoff because Sanders missed a short putt to win on the 72nd hole. And Nicklaus won the playoff by one stroke, 72 to 73.

1971 U.S. Open: This 18-hole playoff at Merion against Lee Trevino began with Trevino pulling a rubber snake out of his golf bag on the first tee, and ended with Trevino beating Nicklaus by three, 68 to 71. Trevino later credited his win to Nicklaus' poor wedge play.

Nicklaus' Other PGA Tour Playoffs

In 20 "regular" PGA Tour event playoffs, Nicklaus had a record of 11-9.

1962 Houston Classic: This one happened a few weeks before Nicklaus' 1962 U.S. Open win. Here, though, he lost. It was an 18-hole playoff and Nicklaus finished last among the three participants: Bobby Nichols had a 71, Dan Sikes a 71 and Nicklaus a 76. Nichols beat Sikes in a sudden-death hole.

1963 Palm Springs Golf Classic: In 18 holes, Nicklaus beat Gary Player by eight strokes, shooting 65 to Player's 73.

1963 Western Open: Another 18-hole playoff with three participants, Arnold Palmer won this one with a score of 70. Julius Boros had a 71 and Nicklaus a 73.

1965 Pensacola Open Invitational: Now we're into the era when non-major PGA Tour events started using sudden death rather than 18-hole playoffs. Sanders won with a birdie on the third playoff hole.

1965 Memphis Open Invitational: Nicklaus beat Johnny Pott with a par on the first playoff hole.

1968 American Golf Classic: In a three-way playoff against Frank Beard and Lee Elder, Beard was eliminated on the first extra hole. Nicklaus and Elder needed another four holes to settle it, with Nicklaus' birdie on the fifth extra hole winning it.

1969 Kaiser International Open Invitational: This was a four-way playoff against George Archer, Billy Casper and Don January. After January was knocked out on the first playoff hole, Nicklaus won it with a birdie on the second.

1970 Byron Nelson Golf Classic: The third and final Nicklaus-Palmer playoff, Jack won this one with a first-hole birdie.

1971 Atlanta Classic: Gardner Dickinson beat Nicklaus on the first hole with a par.

1972 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am: Nicklaus won on the first playoff hole against Johnny Miller with a birdie.

1972 Tournament of Champions: Journeyman Bobby Mitchell chased down Nicklaus in the final round, then beat him in the playoff with a first-hole birdie.

1973 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am: Playing against Raymond Floyd and Orville Moody, Nicklaus ended it quick with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

1973 Great New Orleans Open: It was Nicklaus vs. Miller Barber, and Nicklaus won on the second extra hole with a birdie.

1974 World Championship of Golf: Johnny Miller won this four-man playoff with a birdie on the second extra hole. The playoff also included Frank Beard and Bob Murphy (eliminated on the first hole).

1975 Canadian Open: Outside of the majors, this might have been one of Nicklaus' toughest losses. Nicklaus played the Canadian Open every year but never won — he did finish second seven times, though. And he did again this year, falling to Weiskopf's birdie on the first extra hole.

1975 World Open Golf Championship: Against Billy Casper, Nicklaus won on the first hole with a par.

1977 Tournament of Champions: Nicklaus beat Bruce Lietzke on the third playoff hole with a birdie.

1980 Doral-Eastern Open: Raymond Floyd made a birdie on the second playoff hole to beat Nicklaus.

1982 Bay Hill Classic: The three-man playoff included Tom Kite and Denis Watson, and Kite won it with a first-hole birdie.

1984 Memorial Tournament: The last PGA Tour playoff for Jack Nicklaus happened in his own tournament, The Memorial. And, quite appropriately, he won it, beating Andy Bean with a par on the third hole. This was Nicklaus' last "regular" PGA Tour win, and he won only the 1986 Masters after this.

Nicklaus in Champions Tour Playoffs

Jack Nicklaus also played three playoffs during his years on the Champions Tour — all three of them in senior majors. His record was two wins, one loss:
  • In the 1991 U.S. Senior Open, Nicklaus defeated Chi Chi Rodriguez in an 18-hole playoff, 65 to 69.
  • In the 1995 Tradition, Nicklaus defeated Isao Aoki on the third sudden-death hole with a birdie.
  • In the 1995 Senior Players Championship, Nicklaus lost on the first sudden-death hole to J.C. Snead's birdie.

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