Nine Things to Know: Augusta National Golf Club


9. THE BIG THREE

Three of golf’s Greatest stars convened for a practice round before the 1996 Masters, a collision of golf’s past and its future. And when the round was over, the two Legends, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, declared that the progeny in their midst, Tiger Woods, could one day claim 10 Masters titles, as many as Palmer and Nicklaus combined. Woods is halfway there, sandwiched between Nicklaus (6) and Palmer (4) on the list of most victories in Masters history.

“He’s absolutely the finest, fundamentally sound golfer I’ve ever seen, almost at any age,” Nicklaus said after playing with Woods for the first time. “(He) hits it 9 million miles without a swing that looks like he’s trying to kill it. … Whether he’s ready to win here this week, I don’t know, but he’s going to be your favorite here for the next 20 years. ”

Nicklaus was right. Woods won the next year by 12 shots – breaking the 72-hole scoring record that Nicklaus shared with Raymond Floyd – for the first of his five Green Jackets.

Palmer ushered Augusta National into the television era, as troops from nearby Fort Gordon formed Arnie’s Army and cheered him to four straight wins in even-numbered years. The first, in 1958, came just two years after the Masters first appeared on television (and in the same year that famed golf Writer Herbert Warren Wind first used the phrase ‘Amen Corner’ in a story). Palmer followed with wins in 1960, ’62 and ’64. The final win was an emphatic six-shot Victory that made him the first four-time Winner in Masters history.

But he was soon to be supplanted as the Greatest player in Masters history. Nicklaus won his first Masters in 1963 and was victorious again in 1965. A year after Palmer won by a half-dose, Nicklaus beat Palmer and Gary Player by nine strokes to set tournament records for the largest winning margin and a low 72-hole score (271 ). Bobby Jones famously called it “the Greatest tournament performance in all of golfing history” and said Nicklaus “plays a game with which I am not familiar.”

Nicklaus won again the next year to become the first player to go back-to-back at Augusta National. His fourth Masters win, in 1975, came in a duel against Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller that is considered one of the Greatest duels in the tournament’s long history. And, Nicklaus’ sentimental win in 1986 at the age of 46 is among the game’s most famous triumphs.

Like Nicklaus, Woods authored a record-Smashing win (1997), went back-to-back (2001-02, joining Nicklaus and Nick Faldo as the only men to do that) and then added one more emotional win (2019). Woods also won in 2005 with a chip in at 16 that is among the most famous shots in tournament history.

Woods’ 12-shot winning margin in 1997 remains the highest in tournament history and his 18-under winning score, since matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015, remains the lowest score in an April Masters. Dustin Johnson won the Masters in November 2020 with a winning score of 20-under 268, the lowest score in relation to par in major Championship history.

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