"Besides," said a press tent wit, "he was tired of reading about Weiskopf," a reference to the summer's hero who was not quite up to another barn fire. Gad, he finished sixth.
What Nicklaus did last Sunday was go out in a pairing that contained, essentially, the whole tournament. He was with Rudolph, who trailed him by one, and Crampton, who was three strokes back but was considered to have the best chance of putting together a low round and overtaking him. And what Jack did within this group was never give the slightest hint that he was going to do anything but win. Right away he started hitting the ball dead stiff, flirting with birdies. By the 6th, he had one. By the 7th, he had another. And when he rolled one in at the 15th, after a remarkable iron shot around a cluster of Canterbury's antique trees, it was all over.
Nicklaus coasted on to a final-round 69, which went with his earlier rounds of 72, 68 and 68. That adds up to 277 and a four-stroke victory over Crampton, whose one-under 70 was the best run anybody could make at Nicklaus among the serious contenders. Mason Rudolph, with his lasso swing, had hung in there tenaciously most of the way but he was destined to double bogey the last hole for a 73; Don Iverson, the young, handsome nobody who had shared both the 18- and 36-hole lead despite playing in his first major event, finally relented to the pressure and concluded with a 74, falling into a tie for sixth.
Jack had been a grim fellow all week, somewhat of a man lost within himself. He has been admitting for two years or so that these major championships are the only things that matter to him anymore. When a season passes and he has not captured one of them, the winter is a long one. Evidence of his attitude came early in Cleveland when a friend asked him to do a TV interview, specifically in regard to the Ryder Cup matches coming up in Scotland. Jack refused, not rudely, but absolutely.
"I don't want to talk about anything that does not concern itself with this championship," he said.
Canterbury was living proof that when Nicklaus appears to have his mind and game in shape, nothing is beyond his reach. It is an engagingly old-fashioned place, all cramped in among the tall trees of the lovely neighborhood in Shaker Heights. It seems as if the back nine was built on top of the front with four greens coming back to the old rambling brick clubhouse (the 3rd, 9th, 15th and 18th) and with tees hanging off the verandas on all sides, and some of them hanging off the front porches of homesteads. It is a hilly place with numerous blind shots, tight as a pair of jeans in spots, and there is a subtlety to the old greens that last week made the same putt break in a different direction each time. With a different speed.
Length made no difference. There was only one par 5 Jack could reach consistently (the 6th), but so could everyone else. It was essentially a short-iron course, a tough driving course, with the exception of the final three holes, which were long, long, long, and which were capable of producing either a bizarre or a dull finish.
When Canterbury staged a couple of U.S. Opens back in its past, the Lawson Little Open of 1940 and the Lloyd Mangrum Open of 1946, these last three holes produced playoffs, and those Opens produced controversies. No such thing this time. The PGA was over when Nicklaus reached them, and he could even afford the luxury of a closing bogey.
Jack probably never envisioned that he would take old No. 14 with a casual, six-inch tap-in putt for a bogey, but that is how it all ended.
"Looking back on it, I have to say I think I was trying too hard," he said. "At Muirfield last year, and then at Augusta and Oakmont and Troon. There's no doubt, I was hung up on getting the 14th."