News & ToursApril 9, 2008

Fields: Hardly the Back Nine Nicklaus Remembers

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Urged by Gary Player, six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus played the back nine at Augusta National GC with his longtime friend Wednesday morning before joining Player and Arnold Palmer in the Par-3 Contest.

"I shot my 40-ish and got out of there," said the 68-year-old Nicklaus, who played his last competitive round at the Masters in 2005. "No illusions of grandeur."

While Nicklaus finished T-6 in the 1998 Masters at age 58, a decade later on a course significantly lengthened, he was outmanned on his approaches. "I hit a 3-wood into 10, a 4-wood at 11, a 3-iron that should have been a 5-wood at 14. I hit Ike's Tree at 17 and hit a 4-wood there and a 5-wood at 18. I probably wouldn't have played nine holes if I didn't have one of my grandsons, Jackie, on the bag. I thought it would be a nice experience for him to see the back nine."

Nicklaus doesn't play much golf these days, but he hasn't forgotten how as evidenced by his recent round at The Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla. "Matter of fact, Sunday, I shot my age there," Nicklaus said. "Members' tees, but still shot my age. That's the first time I've shot my age since I was 64."

On the second hole of the Par-3 Tournament, Nicklaus hit his tee shot to seven inches, the best of the day so far on that hole.

Tomorrow the real action begins in the tournament Nicklaus used to rule, the one now ruled by Tiger Woods. "I don't know how to make odds," Nicklaus said to a reporter who asked him to do just that. "Is he [Woods] the favorite by a mile? Yeah, of course he is."

--Bill Fields

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