OAKMONT, Pa.-Jack Nicklaus, a 22-year-old rookie professional, beat Arnold Palmer by three strokes in an 18-hole golf playoff today and won the sixty-second United States Open championship. Nicklaus scored a par 71, Palmer a 74. Although the husky 200-pounder from Columbus, Ohio, learned at the age of 16 how to outscore professional golfers by winning the Ohio open, the triumph this afternoon over the 6,894-yard Oakmont Country Club course was his first since he left the amateur ranks last November.

In beating the favored Palmer, Nicklaus became the first man to take the Open in his initial season as a pro. The extra session proved a surprise to a partisan gallery of 11,000, which called constantly, “Come on, Arnie.” But the crowd failed to rattle Nicklaus, who outdrove his illustrious rival and outputted him on the undulating greens of this rugged course. At the end of six holes, Nicklaus had a four-stroke lead. Presently, however, as almost everyone expected, Palmer put on one of his characteristic rallies. This one accounted for birdies on the ninth, eleventh and twelfth holes and reduced Nicklaus’s margin to one stroke. Unfortunately for Palmer, who won the 1960 Open at Denver when Nicklaus was second as an amateur, the rally could not be sustained.

Nicklaus and Palmer had ended the regulation seventy-two holes yesterday tied for first with scores of 283. Today, there were some moments of confusion, but Nicklaus appeared to be calmer and more relaxed in what was a duel that tested emotions as well as golfing skills. Some of the tension was shown at the eighteenth, where Palmer conceded Nicklaus the title before the latter had holed out. Nicklaus had called for a ruling after driving into the rough when he found his ball lodged in a bad spot. He was ordered to continue, and did so after Palmer had knocked his second short of the bunker to the right, below the green.

After a recovery wedge, Nicklaus pitched a No. 9 iron to the green and putted close. Palmer, on with his third, then putted and missed. After he again knocked his ball toward the cup, Palmer picked up the coin that Nicklaus had used to mark his place on the green and offered congratulations to the new champion. But as Nicklaus was surrounded by well-wishers, he was reminded that he had not holed out. The happy Ohioan complied by going back and tapping in a tiny putt for the 5 that officially made him one of the youngest champions ever to win the game’s most cherished honor.

Despite his youth, Nicklaus isn’t the youngest to win this title. That honor went to Horace Rawlins, the first winner, who was 19 when he won in 1895 at Newport, R.I. Bobby Jones was 21 when he won the first of his four Opens in 1923.