9 Jack Nicklaus
Arguably the greatest player of all time, not many remember that the 18-time Major champion was also a prolific amateur player before turning pro in 1961.
As a child, the Golden Bear successfully overcame a bout of polio and was then advised to try the healthy sport of golf. He took up the game aged 10 and reportedly scored 51 over the first nine holes he ever played. By 13 he had broken 70 for the first time and had captured the first of five straight Ohio State Junior titles.
At 15, he qualified for his first US Amateur, but he wouldn’t win the first of his two titles until four years later. His “prodigy” label stems from his victory over a professional field at the 1956 Ohio Open, aged 16.
As was common in those days, Jack remained an amateur until he was 22, by which time he had posted the low score for an amateur at the US Open – 282 when finishing second to Arnold Palmer in 1960. Nicklaus is also one of a select group whose first professional win was the US Open, which came just two years later at Oakmont.
HK Golfer PR: A great junior record, which perhaps could have been even better had he ventured outside his home state of Ohio more regularly.
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