SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
January 14, 1974
At the heels of Jack Nicklaus as the 1974 pro tour began last week was an aggressive pack of young players hoping to bring him to bay
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 14, 1974

Hounded By His Heirs

At the heels of Jack Nicklaus as the 1974 pro tour began last week was an aggressive pack of young players hoping to bring him to bay

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

And Crenshaw said, "I'm just gonna try to make 30,000 birdies and see what happens."

Just behind Nicklaus but still slightly ahead of this group of extra special talents are the palace guards, Lee Trevino and Gary Player. Their games have not exactly gone south. And pressing Crenshaw closely in youthful potential are John Mahaffey, Len Thompson, Tom Watson and Tom Kite, plus a few others the public will hear a lot more about.

In no minor way, last year belonged as much to Nicklaus as it did to these new stars who shoved their way into our consciousness. Nicklaus, after all, won that record 14th major championship when he took the PGA in Cleveland. But he captured seven other tournaments as well, counting the World Cup in Spain when he teamed with Miller for the good old U.S.A.

Nor were the other crowd pleasers idle. Player won on three different continents—as usual—Trevino sneaked in a couple of victories in Florida, Billy Casper, who seemed not to be around much, got a win. Arnold Palmer even won a tournament. But none of these made the year, or caused the excitement and anticipation about the future.

Weiskopf's streak over an eight-month period was the biggest news. It turned him into the player he had shown so much promise of becoming. It gave him a major title, and thus a loftier social status on the circuit. It also gave him more unofficial money—close to $350,000—than anyone had ever won in a single year, including all of Nicklaus' best years. It made Weiskopf a career millionaire (by world golf standards) along with Nicklaus, Palmer, Casper, Trevino, Player and Bruce Crampton.

"Maybe that's why everybody thinks I'm a better guy now," he jokes.

Weiskopf's streak never really got the attention it deserved. Starting in mid-May and ending in early December, here in order is what he did:

Won Colonial, finished second in Atlanta, won Kemper, won Philadelphia, finished third in the U.S. Open, fifth at Akron, won the British Open, won the Canadian Open, finished third at Westchester, sixth in the PGA, third in the U.S. Match Play, won the World Series, finished third in the John Player Classic in Scotland, finished third at Cincinnati, third in the Piccadilly, and won the South African PGA.

The startling statistics one can get out of all this are just that—startling. Weiskopf won seven of those 16 tournaments, never finished worse than sixth, was 14 times in the top three, and won in four different countries.

"The British Open was the big thing," he says, "but next best thing was beating Jack a few times."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5