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Jack Nicklaus - 1963

February 17, 2012 - 5:04 pm
Arnold Palmer helps Jack Nicklaus , with the traditional green jacket in this April 7, 1963 photo, in Augusta, Ga.   File/AP
File/AP
Arnold Palmer helps Jack Nicklaus , with the traditional green jacket in this April 7, 1963 photo, in Augusta, Ga.
By John Boyette |

Jack Nicklaus had made some noise at the Masters Tournament as an amateur. So when he turned pro in 1962, it was a given that he would soon be trying on a green jacket of his own.

Not so fast.

Big Jack's first Masters as a pro was hardly a success. He broke par only once and collected a measly $1,160 for his tie for 15th.

Nicklaus would make up for that misstep by winning the U.S. Open later that year in a playoff against Arnold Palmer . That was the first sign that golf's landscape was changing.

When the 1963 Masters arrived, Nicklaus was ready to make another statement. An opening 74 was not what he wanted, but tough conditions made scoring at Augusta National difficult.

Nicklaus found his game the next day with a sizzling 6-under-par 66, the first sub-70 round he posted at the Masters. His six birdies against no bogeys was the round of the tournament and vaulted him into second place.

He slipped back to 74 in the third round, but with the course playing tough it was enough to get him into first place.

The final day produced the normal Masters charge on the leaderboard. Tony Lema, Sam Snead and Julius Boros all made moves as Nicklaus struggled. Through 12 holes, he was 2-over par for the day.

But he responded by making birdies at the 13th and the 16th, the latter on a delicate 12-foot putt.

Two pars later, Nicklaus had completed his 72 and had held off Lema by one stroke. His victory, at age 23, made him the youngest Masters winner.

Alfred Wright, writing in Sports Illustrated, commented on the size of Nicklaus' coat and what the future held for the young golfer.

"The size is 44 regular, and they may as well file it where it will be handy,'' Wright wrote. "Jack may earn a few more of those coats in the future.''

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