The Old Course was calm for the first day of the 1970 Open, and many scores were incredibly low. But the rest of the championship, including my playoff round against Sanders, was played in three-sweater weather—galelike winds and temperatures between 45� and 55�—and most scores soared. The prevailing winds generally were from the southwest, which meant they came from the golfer's left as he played the first seven holes going out and from his right as he played the last seven coming in. At the four "loop" holes, it was anybody's guess what the wind would do.
My game is normally left to right. I prefer to hit a fade, a controlled shot that drops dead into the fairway. But when I played the Open at St. Andrews in 1964, I found that I could not control my left-to-right shots when the wind was blowing in the same direction. This year I decided I would play a hook—even a duck hook, if necessary—in order to keep my ball in play whenever the wind blew across from my left. It must have worked, because I hit most fairways, and 69 of my first 72 putting surfaces in regulation.
We played off for the Open championship on Sunday. I started off well, and led Sanders by two strokes going to the 5th hole. The next few strokes probably won the Open for me, but it seemed like anything except a turning point at the time. I hit my drive at 5 to the right—and it landed in a bunker. I decided to play a pitching wedge out instead of a sand wedge, since there was another bunker 30 yards ahead and I wanted to be certain to clear it. My explosion landed on the lip of that other bunker and kicked down a bank, so I was spared that problem. But now I had a bad lie, and my three-wood coming out carried too far left, stopping next to a nest of heather in calf-deep gorse. All I wanted to do was to get the ball onto the green and save my lead with a bogey. Somehow I made one of the luckiest and perhaps greatest recovery shots of my career. The ball landed on the green about 30 yards short and rolled up to within two feet of the hole. I made my par. Doug made a charge later, birdieing 14 and 15, while I bogeyed 16, so that saved stroke on 5 was the difference as we teed up at 18.
The wind here was directly behind us, blowing about 50 mph. Doug hit first and his drive stopped short of the green, 358 yards away. I debated between a driver and a three-wood, finally deciding on the driver. I removed one of my sweaters so I could make a freer swing at the ball and aimed my drive at the flagstaff left of the green. I hit it exactly as I wanted. The ball landed just short of the putting surface, rolled up, barely missed hitting the pin, then rolled off the green and stopped on a bank in some heavy grass.
Doug played a beautiful pitch-and-run shot with a four-iron to within five feet. If he sank his putt and I took a par (by no means assured at this point) we would go to sudden-death. I was lucky again to have a good lie in the rough, with the grass bending toward the green. I took out a sand wedge and, standing with both feet ahead of the ball, prepared to hit my shot. Suddenly I remembered having the same shot at Muirfield, where I won the British Open in 1966. That time I hit the ball three feet. This time I wanted to avoid that kind of disaster, yet I did not want to hit the ball past the hole and down into the Valley of Sin, from where I had three-putted the previous day. I had to land it short of the hole—and close if possible.
The ball came out just right, and rolled up eight feet short. My putt was the same putt Doug had on Saturday—only longer. I told myself to keep still over the ball. I knew it would break left to right, the way Doug's putt broke Saturday. The ball broke across the cup but caught the right side of the hole—and dropped in.
A birdie. The British Open at St. Andrews. My caddie, Jim Dickinson, and I both were almost in tears. I was so excited I jumped up and my putter flew 40 feet into the air. Doug ducked, but I told him, "You're all right." I had never acted like that before. It was not characteristic of me. But I had never won at St. Andrews before.
I was delighted, too, at the way this ended a long, long drought. I had an 0-for-12 record in major championships, as everyone had been reminding me. Some people go lifetimes without winning a major championship; I go three years and they all say "Nicklaus is finished." But breaks determine who wins a major golf tournament, and I got my share at St. Andrews. Doug and I played 90 holes. I took 355 shots, he took 356. One stroke is a lucky difference.
So, now I have won 10 major championships—three Masters, two U.S. Opens, two British Opens, two U.S. Amateurs and one PGA. I always have maintained that the only way one golfer can separate himself from all the other golfers is to win more major championships than Bobby Jones did. Bobby Jones won 13. I need three more to tie him—and four more to beat him. That is my goal. Fourteen Major Championships. I may never get there, but I'll try.