#78: Big 12 / Dazzling Dozen
Arnold Palmer got hot in the desert, winning the Bob Hope Desert Classic in Palm Springs five times and taking the Phoenix Open three consecutively, in 1961, 62 and 63.
The second of the Phoenix wins also saw Palmer’s biggest margin of victory,12 strokes over the four second-place finishers, including tour rookie Jack Nicklaus—with whom Palmer had been paired for the first time. As Nicklaus wrote in the Foreword to Palmer’s book “A Life Well Played,” “As we walked off the 17th green, he put his arm on my shoulder. I knew I needed birdie at 18 to finish second. So did Arnold, who told me, “just relax, it’s not a hard par five. You’re in good shape. Just play smart and you’ll finish second.’ He didn’t have to do that, yet there he was, Arnold Palmer, trying to help a young guy while winning a tournament. I did get my birdie to finish joint second. Arnold nipped me by just twelve strokes.”