1980 US Open: 'Jack Is Back!'

Jack Nicklaus raises his putter and prepares a fist pump after the final putt of his 1980 US Open victory
Jack Nicklaus raises his putter and prepares a fist pump after the final putt of his 1980 US Open victory. John Kelly/Getty Images

Jack Nicklaus entered the 1980 U.S. Open coming off a season (1979) in which he went winless for the first time in his PGA Tour career. He was 40 years old. The whispers were everywhere: Nicklaus is washed up.

But by the end of the week, the scoreboard at Baltusrol famously exclaimed, "Jack Is Back!"

Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf opened the tournament with scorching rounds of 63, becoming just the second and third golfers to shoot 63 in a U.S. Open.

Weiskopf quickly fell away, however, failing to break 75 in his remaining rounds and finishing 37th. Nicklaus had a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of that first round for a record 62, but missed.

Nicklaus followed with a second-round 71 and a 2-stroke lead over, among others, Japan's Isao Aoki. Aoki was the best - or at worst, second-best - Japanese golfer of the time, and had Top 10 finishes in the 1978 and 1979 British Opens. His appearance in the 1980 U.S. Open was just his second in this event. But with back-to-back 68s, Aoki was on Nicklaus' trail.

And Aoki caught Nicklaus in the third round, shooting 68 to Nicklaus' 70.

In the final round, Aoki bogied the second hole and Nicklaus birdied the third, producing a 2-stroke lead for the Golden Bear. Aoki trimmed the lead back to one, but Nicklaus maintained a 2-stroke margin over the entire back nine. Aoki birdied the final two holes, but so did Nicklaus to win by two strokes.

For Nicklaus, it was his record-tying fourth U.S. Open victory (joining Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson at four), and his 16th professional major.

Nicklaus' 272 total broke his own tournament record of 275, set in 1967 and also at Baltusrol. At the time, Aoki's 274 was the second-lowest total ever posted in a U.S. Open, and it still shares the tournament record for lowest score by a non-winner.

Aoki went on to win 51 times total in Japan, once on the USPGA and nine times on the Champions Tour. Nicklaus won only four more times after this on the PGA Tour, but two of those were majors - including one a couple months later, the 1980 PGA Championship.

1980 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1980 U.S. Open golf tournament played on the par-70 Lower Course of Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey (a-amateur):

Jack Nicklaus63-71-70-68--272$55,000
Isao Aoki68-68-68-70--274$29,500
Keith Fergus66-70-70-70--276$17,400
Lon Hinkle66-70-69-71--276$17,400
Tom Watson71-68-67-70--276$17,400
Mark Hayes66-71-69-74--280$11,950
Mike Reid69-67-75-69--280$11,950
Ed Sneed72-70-70-70--282$8,050
Hale Irwin70-70-73-69--282$8,050
Mike Morley73-68-69-72--282$8,050
Andy North68-75-72-67--282$8,050
Bruce Devlin71-70-70-72--283$4,387
Bobby Wadkins72-71-68-72--283$4,387
Joe Hager72-70-71-70--283$4,387
Lee Trevino68-73-69-74--284$4,387
Pat McGowan69-69-73-73--284$2,891
Bill Rogers69-72-70-73--284$2,891
Gil Morgan73-70-70-71--284$2,891
Curtis Strange69-74-71-70--284$2,891
Joe Inman74-69-69-72--284$2,891
Craig Stadler73-67-69-75--284$2,891
Jim Simons70-72-71-72--285$2,400
J.C. Snead69-71-73-72--285$2,400
Peter Jacobsen70-69-72-74--285$2,400
a-Gary Hallberg74-68-70-73--285 
Jay Haas67-74-70-75--286$2,275
Mark Lye68-72-77-69--286$2,275
John Mahaffey72-73-69-73--287$2,125
David Edwards73-68-72-74--287$2,125
George Burns75-69-73-70--287$2,125
Calvin Peete67-76-74-70--287$2,125
Ben Crenshaw72-73-71-72--288$1,900
Bob Gilder72-68-74-74--288$1,900
Jerry McGee72-72-70-74--288$1,900
Jack Newton72-71-74-71--288$1,900
Hubert Green73-73-65-77--288$1,900
Tom Weiskopf63-75-76-75--289$1,760
Tim Simpson70-73-73-74--290$1,630
a-Bobby Clampett72-74-71-73--290 
Rod Curl73-71-72-74--290$1,630
Gene Littler72-68-75-75--290$1,630
Jim Dent72-72-70-76--290$1,630
Artie McNickle76-70-72-72--290$1,630
Bruce Lietzke71-72-70-77--290$1,630
Scott Simpson73-72-73-73--291$1,530
Wayne Levi72-71-73-75--291$1,530
Charles Coody72-71-74-75--292$1,470
David Graham72-73-72-75--292$1,470
Jim Colbert72-69-74-77--292$1,470
Raymond Floyd67-79-71-75--292$1,470
Lou Graham73-71-72-77--293$1,410
Dave Stockton73-73-77-70--293$1,410
John Cook71-71-77-75--294$1,385
Fuzzy Zoeller75-70-72-77--294$1,385
Tommy McGinnis69-71-81-74--295$1,370
Ron Streck72-71-76-77--296$1,355
Lance Ten Broeck73-71-71-81--296$1,355
Chip Beck76-70-77-74--297$1,340
Jeff Mitchell69-75-73-81--298$1,330
Phil Hancock76-70-75-78--299$1,310
Larry Nelson70-74-76-79--299$1,310
Bobby Walzel73-70-81-75--299$1,310
Arnold Palmer73-73-77-78--301$1,310

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