This time, Tom Weiskopf was the one to soak up the applause on the 18th hole while Jack Nicklaus played the role of gracious runner-up.
Weiskopf, a perennial runner-up during his heyday on the PGA Tour, played 22 holes with just one bogey Sunday to win the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament. He pulled away from Isao Aoki and withstood a bold charge by Nicklaus, whose 5-underpar 67 included the 17th hole-in-one of his professional career.
Nicklaus also had five birdies, but he started the round five shots back and his late surge did nothing more than leave him in second place, four strokes behind.
It was the second major championship for Weiskopf, who won the 1973 British Open. But he finished second in the Masters four times and was runner-up in the 1976 U.S. Open. He also took second behind Nicklaus in the 1993 Senior Open.
“This is almost as good as the British Open,” Weiskopf said. “I’m extremely excited. The goal I’ve always had is to be a part of the USGA and have my name on one of their trophies.”
After his par putt on No. 18 dropped into the cup, Weiskopf doffed his cap to the gallery and accepted congratulations from Nicklaus, who was well aware of Weiskopf’s reputation.
“I’m very pleased for Tom,” Nicklaus said. “Tom has had a hard time finishing golf tournaments, trouble winning when he’s played very, very well. He has enormous talent, but just hasn’t been able to get there.”
On this day, however, Weiskopf was too good to be caught by Nicklaus or anyone else. His final-round 68 left him at 13-under-par, one short of the Senior Open record set in 1987 by Gary Player.
“I did it all,” Weiskopf said. “I made some mistakes, of course, but in all the entire week I did not have too many faults.”
After Nicklaus’ one-stroke victory at the Senior Open two years ago, he said Weiskopf always seemed to be one shot shy. Nicklaus remembered that comment Sunday.
“I pointed to the leaderboard at the presentation, showing him the four-shot difference and I told him that there wasn’t anyone one shot shy this time,” Nicklaus said.
“I guess this makes up for it,” Weiskopf said. “He won’t forget it, I’ll tell you that.”
Long before he completed his fourth consecutive sub-70 round, Weiskopf was on the 15th green at 8:15 a.m. to finish the third round, which had been suspended the night before because of darkness.
His first shot, a par putt from eight feet, missed the cup. It turned out to be his only bogey of the day. Weiskopf finished with a 275 total and earned $175,000 for his second career senior victory.
Aoki (72) and Bob Murphy (70) tied for third at 280. Hale Irwin and J.C. Snead shot 71s to finish at 282. Lee Trevino had a 68 for a 283.
Starting the final round about 5 hours after his initial foray onto the Congressional Country Club course, Weiskopf parred the first four holes before moving to 10-under with a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 5. Aoki, who also birdied the hole, drew into a tie for the lead for the first time in the tournament by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7.
Weiskopf broke the deadlock on the next hole with a 10-foot birdie putt. Later, Aoki’s approach at No. 11 soared into a lake to the right of the green. Although Aoki salvaged par, Weiskopf sank an 8-foot birdie putt to go up by two strokes with seven holes to play.
Weiskopf birdied No. 13 to lead by three shots. And after Aoki bogeyed 15 it became evident no one was going to catch Weiskopf.
Nicklaus opened with successive bogeys and parred the next three holes before beginning his run with a 12-foot birdie-putt on No. 6.
Nicklaus then decided on a 6-iron for the 163-yard, par-3 seventh hole. His tee shot took two quick hops before rolling six inches into the heart of the cup.
He then birdied No. 8 and took a par at No. 9 when his fourth shot fell three inches short. Still, Nicklaus made the turn at 6-under and very much in contention for his third Senior Open title.
Desperately needing a run of birdies, Nicklaus parred Nos. 10-12 before keeping his hopes alive with a birdie on No. 13 that put him 7-under. He parred the next three holes before closing with successive birdies, but it wasn’t nearly enough to beat a nearly flawless Weiskopf.
“He just kept right on going,” Nicklaus said. “There was nothing I could do about it. I was too far back.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Leaderboard Results of the U.S. Senior Open: Tom Weiskopf 69-69-69-68-275 Jack Nicklaus 71-71-70-67-279 Bob Murphy 69-70-71-70-280 Isao Aoki 70-70-68-72-280
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