AP WAS THERE: 43 years ago, Trevino ends a Grand Slam dream
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jack Nicklaus had never trailed in any round on his way to winning the Masters and U.S. Open in 1972, and the British Open was played that year at Muirfield, where Nicklaus had won his first claret jug six years earlier. He woke up Monday morning of Open week with a stiff neck, which restricted his swing. Playing cautiously, he stayed in range of the leaders until Lee Trevino pulled away to a five-shot lead in the third round.
With his neck pain gone, Nicklaus fired a 66 in the final round and thought it might be enough until Trevino held on with a chip-in on the 17th and a par on the 18th to win by one shot. Nicklaus had another chance at the Grand Slam. He won the Masters in 1975, but finished two shots back of the U.S. Open that year.
Forty-three years later, the AP is making a version of the story of the tournament and photos available.
MUIRFIELD, Scotland (AP) — "I had it but I let it get away," a bitterly disappointed Jack Nicklaus said Saturday, his voice low but steady.
He obviously was making an effort to control himself after his incredible comeback effort had fallen just one stroke short and Lee Trevino — still stunned by his miracle chip shot on the 17th hole — escaped with his second consecutive British Open Golf Championship.
Trevino's triumph shattered Nicklaus' dream of a one-year sweep of the world's four major titles, an unprecedented feat that many players and observers have deemed impossible. Nicklaus, halfway to the goal having won the Masters and U.S. Open titles, almost added the British Open title to his list.
He charged from six strokes off the pace with a course-record-matching 66, but failed to keep his quest alive by a single stroke at 279.
Trevino, meanwhile, chipped in from 30 feet for a par on the 17th hole, a key stroke in his 71 for 278.
Tony Jacklin, the young Englishman who was gunning for a second British crown, was so shaken he three-putted the same hole from 15 feet. Starting the hole, Jacklin had been tied with Trevino for the lead.
Nicklaus said he had set a target of 65 for the day's play and was 6 under par going to the 16th hole. He needed only to par in for the 65. But he bogeyed the 16th, missing the green and failing on a 4-foot putt, then couldn't make a birdie on the last two holes.
"Well, that's life," Nicklaus shrugged.
"If I had to get beaten by somebody, I'm glad it was Lee. He's some player."
Trevino seemed almost apologetic about winning. He was subdued, and refrained from his usual string of wise-cracks at the presentation.
"I think it would have been good for golf for Jack to win the Grand Slam," he said. "But, you know, we're all in this to win."
Jacklin, the 26-year-old Englishman who won this crown in 1969, finished bogey-bogey, to drop from a share of the top spot to third with a 72-280.
Veteran Doug Sanders was next with a 70-281 and was followed by Brian Barnes of England, 71-283 and Gary Player of South Africa, 67-285.
"I'm the great chipper in the world," Trevino told a friend after he chipped in from ankle-deep rough on the par-5 17th for a par that saved the day for the defending champion.
The lead fluctuated with almost tick-tock regularity on the bright and sunny day that drew a gallery of almost 20,000 — including Princess Margaret — to the links just south of the Firth of Forth.
Trevino and Jacklin, in the final twosome, were playing the 17th, while Nicklaus was working on the very difficult 18th, a long par 4.
At that stage Trevino and Jacklin were tied for the lead at 6 under and Nicklaus, who had dropped out of a share of the top spot with a bogey, was 5 under.
Jacklin drove into a perfect position and the 32-year-old Trevino, who last year captured the imagination of the world with his rags-to-riches success in three national opens, put his tee shot in deep bunker.
The squat and swarthy Trevino, a Dallas-born product of Mexican heritage, collapsed against the side of the bunker after bulldozing his way out.
The shot found the knee-deep rough while Jacklin put his second in short rough just in front of the green. Trevino hit his third into even more rough and was in three inches of heather and thistle with his fourth.
Jacklin pitched up about 15 feet short of the flag and was lying three while Trevino was four and not on the putting surface. It appeared Jacklin was sure to win, possibly by two strokes.
Trevino hitched his shoulder, fingered his cap, stalked to the green to survey the situation — and then chipped it in from 30 feet, just as he had done twice in a brilliant round of 66 in Friday's third round.
Shaken, Jacklin three-putted for a bogey 6. He missed from about three feet on the second one. That put Trevino in front by one.
Nicklaus, at the same time, needed a birdie 3 on the final hole to have any chance. He put his second about 35 feet to the left of the flag. The putt was about a foot short.
Jack watched intently as the ball rolled toward the flag, then cuddled the clinched fists — still holding the putter — between his cheek and shoulder and grimaced in despair as the dream of the sweep became impossible — at least for this year.
Jacklin put his second in the bunker on the right of the 18th green and made a bogey to drift back to third. Trevino almost knocked the flagstick down with his approach shot but missed the short putt for a birdie.
Playing with the awesome majesty that has made him the game's all-time leading money winner in only 11 years on the tour, Nicklaus began his spectacular victory bid by his irons to the green after booming drives and the putter was working with metronome efficiency.
He saved par from 6 feet on the first hole, birdied the second from the same distance, made it for 8 feet on the second for another birdie, then scored two-putt birdies on the two par-5s on the front side, the fifth and ninth.
Trevino and Jacklin, meanwhile, were two over after seven, giving Jack a share of the lead with Trevino.
Jack ripped irons to within 5 feet of the stick on the 10th and 11th for two more birdies to go in front, but Trevino made an eagle 3 on the 495-yard ninth to catch him again. Jacklin also eagled the hole to move within a stroke of the lead.
Trevino made a long putt after hitting his second from the rough while Jacklin lashed a three wood to within 6 feet of the cup.
It was at that stage that Nicklaus began to fade. He missed from 6 feet on the 12th, from 15 on the 14th and lipped a 7-foot putt on the 15th, any of which would have given him the lead alone.
He bogeyed the par-3 16th when he missed the green and failed on a 4-foot putt, than failed to birdie either the 17th or 18th.
"I told Barbara (his wife) before we got started I would win it," he said. If I'd had that 65 on the board, it might have made things different for the others on the last few holes.
"But it didn't happen."
Jacklin got a share of the lead on a long birdie putt on the 12th, then the three matched strokes until Nicklaus bogeyed the 16th and Trevino made that miracle chip on the 17th that shook Jacklin to his heels.