65th U.S. Open | June 17-21, 1965
Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri
|p-Gary Player, South Africa||70||-||70||-||71||-||71||—||282|
|Kel Nagle, Australia||68||-||73||-||72||-||69||—||282|
|Frank Beard, United States||74||-||69||-||70||-||71||—||284|
|Julius Boros, United States||72||-||75||-||70||-||70||—||287|
|Al Geiberger, United States||70||-||76||-||70||-||71||—||287|
The golf spotlight in the 1960s often landed on Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, two Americans who gobbled up major championships and made U.S. Opens dramatic stages for triumphs and failures.
But they were just two thirds of what became known as golf’s Big Three.
The third member was South African Gary Player. His triumph in the broiling sun at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis elevated him to a level even Palmer and Nicklaus had yet to reach in 1965.
His three-shot playoff victory over Kel Nagle — along with his victories at the British Open (1959), the Masters (1961) and the PGA Championship (1962) — gave the 29-year-old Player the career Grand Slam. Only Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan had done it before Player. Since then only Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have accomplished it.
His victory also is notable for several other reasons:
• It was first time the USGA played the tournament over four days with 18 holes each day. Previously, the final day was a 36-hole endurance test.
• Player was the first foreign-born player to win the Open since Ted Ray of England in 1920.
• Player didn’t accept the first prize money of $25,000. He did it to “fulfill a promise I made in 1962 to Mr. Dey (USGA executive Joe Dey) that I would return the money if I ever win this championship, which I wanted more than anything else.” He gave his caddie $2,000, donated $5,000 to the American Cancer Society and asked that the USGA use the rest to promote junior golf in the United States.