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Jack Nicklaus - 1966

February 17, 2012 - 5:12 pm
Jack Nicklaus watches his putt drop for a birdie on #6 during the 1966 play-off at the Masters. He won over Gay Brewer and Tommy Jacobs.  File/AP
File/AP
Jack Nicklaus watches his putt drop for a birdie on #6 during the 1966 play-off at the Masters. He won over Gay Brewer and Tommy Jacobs.
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By John Boyette |

By 1966, Jack Nicklaus had become accustomed to setting Masters records.

In a three-year span, he had established marks for margin of victory and the 72-hole scoring record. Plus, he had equaled the lowest round at Augusta National and was the tournament's youngest champion.

The only thing left to do, it seemed, was to become the first back-to-back winner.

Nicklaus continued his torrid play from the year before by opening with 68, the day's only sub-70 round. He quickly came to earth the next day with 76, a score that knocked him out of first place.

But Nicklaus didn't despair. A 72 in the third round restored his position as the leader along with Tommy Jacobs. Arnold Palmer , Ben Hogan and Gay Brewer Jr. were among those two shots off the pace heading into Sunday's round.

If casual observers figured Nicklaus would stroll to victory, they were wrong.

Brewer had the hot hand early, making the turn in 33. Nicklaus and Jacobs were less solid, but hung around the lead. Brewer reached the clubhouse with an even-par 288 total, then had to watch as first Jacobs, then Nicklaus, missed short birdie putts coming in. A three-way playoff, a first for the Masters, was scheduled for the next day.

Again, Nicklaus was the solid favorite. Through nine holes, he had positioned himself to reclaim his green coat by shooting 35. Jacobs matched that mark, but Brewer was on his way to 78 and out of contention.

Nicklaus came up with the clutch putts that were quickly becoming his signature - on Nos. 11 and 15 - and Jacobs could not keep up. Nicklaus wound up with 70, two ahead of Jacobs.

At the closing ceremony that night, Nicklaus faced an interesting dilemma: How would he get his green coat? Tradition held that the defending champion help the new winner into the garment.

But the issue was put to rest when Bobby Jones spoke.

"Cliff (Roberts) and I have discussed the problem, and have decided you will just have to put the coat on yourself,'' Jones said.

For Nicklaus, who had established another Masters precedent, it was no problem at all.

"He didn't seem to mind it a bit,'' Jim Martin wrote in The Augusta Chronicle.

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