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The Palmer-Nicklaus laugh-in
Curry Kirkpatrick
September 30, 1968
At the PGA Team Championship in Oklahoma City the two kings got all the chuckles but Bobby Nichols and George Archer won the money
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September 30, 1968

The Palmer-nicklaus Laugh-in

At the PGA Team Championship in Oklahoma City the two kings got all the chuckles but Bobby Nichols and George Archer won the money

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The national doubles championship of golf, held at Oklahoma City last week under the name of—pick one—the PGA Team Championship, the APG Classic, the Who Invitational, all of the above, was chock full of scenes which are perfectly familiar on Saturday afternoons at your local club and yet entirely foreign to the normal procedure of the weekly professional tour.

All those famous players, those $100,000 guys, were out there—and they were picking up after they had driven into the rough. Or they were ramming little putts way past the hole in disgust at missing longer putts. Or they were abandoning all caution and swinging like wild men on practically every shot. They were talking over club selection, discussing how to hit out of bad lies, looking over putts together and—get this—helping each other. Big-money pro golfers were actually helping each other.

But these things have always been a part of successful team play and were not really as much of a surprise as they seemed at first glance. The tournament disproved what any reasonable man thought to be a solid, unassailable theory: that any time you get a bunch of golf teams together for a best-ball, the team of guys named Palmer and Nicklaus are going to win in a breeze. Right?

Wrong. George Archer and Bobby Nichols won, and they had to break out of a closely bunched pack of some of the most anonymous teams in America on Sunday afternoon at Quail Creek Country Club to shoot a 65 and take the championship by two shots.

The Archer-Nichols victory climaxed a week of spectacular play in the wind (gusts reached 35 mph at times and averaged around 20 mph through the tournament) in what has become, for players and spectators alike, one of the most entertaining tournaments on the schedule. Until two weeks ago, however, no one was sure if Palmer and Nicklaus would play together at the four-ball. In May the tournament committee had voted that, due to changes in "format and site," the tournament was not the same as before, so that Palmer and Nicklaus would not have to defend. The organization feud had strained relations between the two men. It was rumored that Jack wanted to play with Tom Weiskopf instead of Palmer and that Arnie would play with Dave Marr. Then—whether through intermediaries or as a show of strength and unity or what—the two kings finally managed to get together for their title defense.

Although they started well with a 64 the first day, Palmer and Nicklaus fell back on the second round and were never really in contention. Nonetheless, they provided onlookers with some of the best moments of the tournament, especially in their press conference after their 72 the second day.

"We were miserable, both of us," said Arnie. "We must have covered enough territory to build another 36 holes" (big laugh from press).

"Apiece," said Jack (smaller laugh).

"On 16 [a par-3] we were both in the sand," said Palmer.


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