1964: From near-tragedy to triumph

Champion: Bobby Nichols, Fort Pierce, Fla.
Site: Columbus Country Club, Columbus, Ohio
Date: July 16-19
Purse: $100,000
Par: 34-36 - 70 (6,851 yards)
Field: 162
36 hole cut at 150 (91 players advanced)
54 hole cut at 221 (65 players advanced)

Twelve years before he would make history at Columbus (Ohio) Country Club, Bobby Nichols was a 16-year-old in a car loaded with four other teenagers on a joy ride. Their car went out of control at 100 miles per hour. Nichols was flung through the windshield and lay unconscious for 13 days with a broken pelvis, twisted back, collapsed lung and injured kidney. But he recovered; his spirits boosted by a letter from a player who had suffered a similar accident - Ben Hogan.

Nichols watched Hogan during the 46th PGA Championship, and was inspired. Nichols said a bargain-basement $5 putter he picked up a week earlier in a friend's golf shop was his key to victory. The putter proved warmer than the 93-degree temperatures. Nichols set a blistering pace, opening with a 6-under-par 64 that featured 30- and 40-foot putts over elephant mounds. He never looked back while capturing the Championship with a 9-under-par 271, which remains a Championship record today. The first wire-to-wire winner in the Championship's brief medal-play history, Nichols defeated Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus by three strokes. It was a record-breaking Championship for Palmer, too. He recorded rounds of 68-68-69-69, becoming the first player to have four rounds in the 60s in a major championship. Nichols' opening round remained a record until Raymond Floyd posted a 63 in 1982. Nichols took only 119 putts in 72 holes (a 29.7 average).

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