Who Finished Second Most Often in the British Open?

We usually talk about winners in golf. But the runners-up can sometimes be just as interesting. For example, in major championships. Who finished second the most in the British Open? The two names on the list are two of the biggest in golf history.

Most Runner-Up Finishes in The Open Championship

  • 7 times — Jack Nicklaus, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1979
  • 6 times — J.H. Taylor, 1896, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1914
Nicklaus, of course, holds the all-time record for most wins in men's professional majors with 18. But of the four majors, the British Open is the one he won the fewest times: He had "only" three wins here. But he was the runner-up a whopping seven times.

And Taylor? He was one-third of Britain's late 19th/early 20th century "Great Triumvirate" with Harry Vardon and James Braid, golf's original "Big 3." Taylor won the British Open five times, and added another six second-place finishes.

Nicklaus' Second-Place Finishes in The Open Championship

A year-by-year look at each of Jack Nicklaus' record seven second-place finishes in The Open:

1964 British Open: Nicklaus' first Open at St. Andrews, he matched the then-course record of 66 in the third round. That moved him into second place, but seven strokes behind leader Tony Lema. Lema wound up winning five strokes ahead of Nicklaus.

1967 British Open: Nicklaus' first Open Championship win was in 1966, so he was the defending champion here. Nicklaus went into the final round in third place, shot 69 and finished two behind the winner, Roberto De Vicenzo.

1968 British Open: Jack's second-consecutive runner-up in the Open, he tied with Bob Charles two strokes off Gary Player's winning score.

1972 British Open: The Bear had two Open wins by this point, having won for a second time in 1970. But in 1972, it was runner-up No. 4. Nicklaus began the final round six strokes behind leader Lee Trevino, then shot 66 in the final round. It was almost, but not quite, good enough: Trevino won by one.

1976 British Open: 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros held the first-, second- and third-round leads. But in the final round, it was Johnny Miller who surged to the win with a 66. Nicklaus carded a 69 and tied Ballesteros for second, six behind Miller.

1977 British Open: One of the most famous duels in golf history — Nicklaus vs. Watson at Turnberry, the "Duel in the Sun." They played the final two rounds together, Nicklaus shooting 65-66, Watson shooting 65-65 to pip the Bear by a stroke. Nicklaus hit a miraculous approach out thick rough on the final hole, then sank a 35-foot birdie putt. That forced Watson to make his own, two-foot birdie putt, which Watson did for the win.

1979 British Open: 1979 was the first year since Nicklaus joined the PGA Tour in 1962 that he failed to win a tournament. He still had Top 10 finishes in three of the four majors. In the 1979 Open, Jack was the defending champ, having won his third (and final) British Open in 1978. He was three strokes off the lead entering the final round, and that's how he finished: three behind winner Seve Ballesteros.

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