Jack Nicklaus, 40 of Dublin, Ohio, won his fourth Open Championship shooting a record score of 272, eight under par, over the Lower Course of the Baltusrol Golf Club, in Springfield, New Jersey. Nicklaus joined Willie Anderson, Bob Jones, and Ben Hogan as the only men to win the Open four times. In setting his record score, Nicklaus was three strokes under the previous record of 275 that he set in 1967 over the same course.
Nicklaus also joined Julius Boros, Hogan, and Ted Ray as the only golfers to win the Open after they passed 40. In posting rounds of 63-71-70-68-272, Nicklaus either led or was tied for the lead throughout. He finished two strokes ahead of Isao Aoki of Japan with whom he played all four days. Aoki's 274 total thus became the second lowest 72-hole score in Open history, Keith Fergus, Lon Hinkle, and Tom Watson tied for third place at 276, the only other players to break par for the 72 holes. Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf shared the first round lead with scores of eight-under-par 63.
These were the lowest scores in the Open since John Miller's final round 63 in the 1973 Open at Oakmont. Nicklaus had a chance to break the record and score 62, but he missed a three-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole. Three players - Fergus, Hinkle, and Mark Hayes - shot 66,three others had 67 and, altogether, 19 players broke par 70, a record for the first round. The low scoring was due, in part, to early week rainstorms, which softened Baltusrol's true and very fast greens.
When the Championship was over, 51 rounds were played under par, the most ever. In the second round, Nicklaus held on for 71, despite losing four strokes to par in mid-round. His 36-hole total of 134, another Open record, gave him a two-stroke lead over Aoki, Fergus, Hinkle, and Mike Reid. Aoki shot a second straight 68 for 136 and had only 23 putts for the round, including just 10 on the second nine. In his first round he had 27 putts.
After 54 holes, Nicklaus and Aoki were tied for the lead at 204, another Open record. Hinkle was third at 205, followed by Watson, Hayes and Fergus at 206. Hubert Green had 65, which included eight consecutive 3s from the ninth hole through the sixteenth. He had two 3s earlier in the round, ten for the day.
In the final round, Nicklaus went ahead by one stroke when Aoki made a bogey 5 at the second hole. Nicklaus birdied the par-4 third hole from five feet to go two strokes ahead. Aoki birdied the eighth hole to cut his deficit to one stroke, but he bogeyed the ninth as Nicklaus made par, and never again was he closer than two strokes. As they stood on the 17th tee, they remained two strokes apart. Both men birdied the 17th, Nicklaus from 20 feet, Aoki from five feet. Aoki's pitch shot to the 18th, another par 5, almost went into the hole, but once again both men birdied.
Nicklaus had a final round 68 to Aoki's 70. Sixty-one professionals and two amateurs made the 36-hole cut at 146, four over par, the lowest cut in Open history. Gary Hallberg was the low amateur with a 285tootal. Arnold Palmer competed in his 28th consecutive Open dating back to 1953.
Prize money reached a record $356,700 with $341,700 awarded in the Championship proper and $15,000 I the Sectional Qualifying Championships. The 4,812 entries were short of the record of 4,897 for the 1978 Open Championship. More than 102,000 spectators attended, the second largest number in Open history.
Starts - 44
Best Finish - Winner 1962, '67, '72, & '80
Rds - 160
Cuts Made - 35
Top 3 - 9
Top 5 - 11
Top 10 - 18
Top 25 - 22
Avg. - 72.59
Scores In 60s - 29
Rds Under Par - 37
Earnings - $372,245.05