The Loop

Did you know: Jack Nicklaus is also the GOAT of finishing in second place (and not just in majors)

June 18, 2020

Jack Nicklaus reacts to a missed putt during the 1981 Masters in which he finished runner-up. Again.

Augusta National

Judging by major championships alone, Jack Nicklaus is golf's GOAT with 18 big ones. Heck, he has more green jackets than Phil Mickelson has total majors. But Jack's runner-up record might be just as amazing.

The Golden Bear took silver in 19 other majors. NINETEEN! Nicklaus may have completed the career Grand Slam three times, but he also completed the career runner-up slam four times. So he is also the GOAT of not closing the deal in golf's four biggest events. . . Kidding, Jack!

But seriously, that's a lot of close calls. Eight more in fact than Mickelson, who is No. 2 on the all-time list with 11 (Arnold Palmer is third with 10). Sorry to keep picking on you, Phil. And we're not done yet!

The purpose of this post, though, is actually to point out a different Nicklaus mark when it comes to finishing in second place. Most golf fans already know about Jack's 19 runner-ups, which kind of defeats the point of a DID YOU KNOW post. You know?

This week's RBC Heritage had people discussing Luke Donald's impressive—yet, somewhat disappointing—track record at Harbour Town Golf Links. While LD has finished second five times at the event, he's never won. And if that sounds tough to pull off, that's because it is. Because, obviously, it's generally tough to finish that high at a PGA Tour event, and also because usually if you are good enough to finish that high at a PGA Tour event that many times, you will also win it at some point.

Due to this unusual track record, I've been referring to Luke as "the Phil Mickelson of the RBC Heritage" because of Phil's well-known record of six runner-ups at the U.S. Open. Again, sorry, Phil. Turns out, there's actually one other golfer who has finished runner-up more times in the same event without a win. That's right, JACK!

Incredibly, Nicklaus finished runner-up at the Canadian Open on seven occasions during his illustrious career. Even more incredible is the fact Nicklaus designed the course, Glen Abbey, that hosted most of those appearances. The same course where Tiger Woods hit his famous fairway bunker shot on the 72nd hole to wrap up his win at the 2000 Canadian Open. Just saying, Jack. . .

Anyway, Luke, you're in darn good company when it comes to close calls without a win in a specific PGA Tour event. Of course, actually winning at Hilton Head one of these years wouldn't hurt, either.