It all came down to Sanders then, and whether he could par the last two holes. With one of the great bunker shots of our time, he survived 17, the Road Hole. But with one of the worst wedges of our time, he got a hitch in the heart at 18 and put himself on the back of the green. Then he jerked up on a 28-inch putt that would have won it.
"Good God," Arnold Palmer said to Doug later. "Pitch and run is your game. What were you doing out there?"
"I just don't know," said Sanders.
It may long be said that Nicklaus made the finest putt of his life Sunday on the final hole of the playoff, where he slammed a howling monster of a shot that carried over Granny Clark's Wynd, the little road that crosses the course, and blazed up to the high grass behind the green, merely 370 yards.
Sanders had crept up from four strokes behind in the last four holes and now was within one sinister stroke. No one could ever know how he had done it. He was just a nervy veteran hanging on with some kind of instinct. Sanders took out a four-iron and hit a run-up shot through the Valley of Sin that he should have hit on Saturday, within four feet of the cup. And so it was up to Jack. He came out of the tough, high grass with about as gutsy a wedge shot as one will ever see and left himself an eight-footer for the whole thing. With the patience only Nicklaus can display, with the confidence of a man who felt the championship truly belonged to him, he jammed it in. Two nights before, Gay Brewer had said, "Jack's in the mood to win. You can tell by the way he swings that he's ready. And when he's ready, it's all over." It was all over now.
For you history fans, it was Jack's 10th major championship in a career that, if it continues, can drown all the records of the Bobby Joneses and Walter Hagens for all time. Let's see: two British Opens to go along with his two U.S. Opens, his two U.S. Amateurs, his PGA and his three Masters titles. Only Jones (12) and Hagen (11) have won more. And Jack doesn't look like he's nearing retirement.
The British were happy in the end, one felt. Considering the exciting prospects of the four big challengers going at it in the fourth round—Nicklaus, Jacklin, Trevino and Sanders—one old Scot had said, "Quite a show coming up, it appears, but whatever happens, we want a proper champion, don't we?"
Would Jack Nicklaus do?