U.S. Open: 10 most clutch shots of all time

Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports /
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3. Jack Nicklaus-1972 U.S. Open, Pebble Beach, 17th hole

The 1972 U.S. Open was all about Jack Nicklaus. Already a two-time U.S. Open champion, having won in 1962 and 1967, the Golden Bear came to Pebble Beach as a 10-time major champion, including a win at the 1972 Masters (the fourth of his eventual six green jackets) and was set to add to his total from the get-go, shooting a 1-under 71 to tie for the lead after the first 18 holes.

He remained in a six-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after Day 2 but took a one-stroke lead into the third round and was the only player in the field at even par. Lee Trevino, Kermit Zarley and Bruce Crampton were one shot back and Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller were two shots behind.

It was extremely difficult for anybody to get anything going on the final day. Conditions were terrible and the final-round scoring average ended up being 78.8, the highest in U.S. Open history after World War II. However, Nicklaus was still able to shoot even on the front side and had a four-shot lead but a double on the 10th knocked it back down to two as Palmer and Crampton were trying to stay close. Arnie actually had a chance to tie Jack at the 14th but missed his birdie putt and subsequently bogeyed the next two holes and lost his momentum.

Nicklaus came to the 17th with a three-stroke lead but with the conditions being what they were — the wind was right in the face of the players — nothing was a sure thing for anyone…unless you’re Jack Nicklaus. He pulled a 1-iron from his bag and hit a high draw that took one bounce on the green, hit the flagstick and stuck just inches from the cup. Nicklaus tapped in for birdie and despite a bogey at the last, wrapped up his third U.S. Open victory. He later said that he could never pull off that shot again.