The Masters is finally here and this could be a special Masters. Many of the best players are on form. Tiger is healthy and fresh off a win. Phil has won twice this year. Forget the Shell Houston results; Phil is always tweaking his clubs and swing in the week prior to a major. Harrington, Ogilvy, Casey, Watney, Perry and plenty of others will have a shot at history come Sunday. There will have to be something really special to rival the greatest Masters of all time.
The 1986 Masters was the greatest Masters ever, and possibly the best golf tournament of all time. Jack Nicklaus, at forty-six years old, comes from behind to win his final major when many thought his best days were long behind him.
He battled Ballesteros, Norman and Kite through the back nine and showed that the Golden Bear still had something left in the tank. His back nine 30 is almost impossible to repeat now with all the changes at Augusta National. With ten holes left he was six strokes behind. On the back he had birdies on holes 10,11,13,16 and 17 with an eagle on 15. Nicklaus has said that walking past the cheering galleries brought tears to his eyes and he had to gather his emotions so he could focus on golf.
He had so many immortal shots on the back nine. The eagle putt on 15, the tee shot to 16 and the Verne Lundquist “Yes Sir!” call on his birdie putt on 17 are classic. Jack himself says this was an extra special victory.
Nicklaus said,” Undoubtedly, it was an exciting week for me and for the family. Having Jackie on the bag in his first Masters, the hug we shared at the end, it was great. I love that picture of us walking off the eighteenth green arm in arm.”
Ken Venturi, while on the air, called it the most emotional Masters ever. After the tournament Venturi told a young Jim Nantz who had just called his first Masters,” If you cover fifty more Masters, you’ll never see a more exciting one.”
The 1986 Masters featured the greatest golfer on the greatest course in what many call the greatest tournament. It will always be the Masters that all others are measured against.