Arnold Palmer and Hale Irwin each earned one skin worth $20,000, while defending champion Gary Player was shutout on Day One.
Nicklaus was the first to get on the board by rolling in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 175-yard third hole. Palmer then birdied the next hole by sticking his approach shot on the par-four fourth to a foot. One hole later, Irwin tallied his first skin by knocking in a six-foot birdie putt at the fifth.
Player almost made it four different winners in four holes at the par-three sixth, but his second shot rolled over the cup. He and Palmer halved the hole with pars.
'That was close,' said Player. 'It's frustrating when you hit it that close and not get it.'
At the par-five seventh, Player curled in a 16-foot birdie putt, but was trumped by Nicklaus, who made a birdie to draw a halve.
Player had one last chance to get his name on the board at the ninth, but his birdie effort slid past the cup.
The 10th hole will be worth $140,000 and five skins when play is resumed on Sunday, making the back nine worth $500,000.
Last year, Player was shutout through regulation, but birdied the first extra hole to earn $230,000 and win the event.