Nicklaus Palmer nostalgic at 75th Masters


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Arnold Palmer turned to Jack Nicklaus as they warmed up on the driving range before hitting the ceremonial first tee shots to start the 75th Masters.

“It was 1955 the first time I hit a ball out here,” Palmer told Nicklaus.

“I wasn’t far behind you in 1959,” Nicklaus said.

They both seemed to enjoy teeing it up, even if it was only for a single shot.

“I was quite happy to take my glove off after the first shot,” Nicklaus said. “It was fun to walk out on the first tee and be a part of it . . . I still get a thrill driving up Magnolia Lane. It’s something special.”

Both Nicklaus and Palmer hit the fairway, with Nicklaus’ ball carrying farther than Palmer’s. Their ages were placed upon the first tee post aside their names, Palmer, 81, Nicklaus, 71.

Nicklaus said he’s off to fish in the Bahamas, but he’ll be watching the Masters’ telecasts when he gets off the ocean each day.

“There’s no business to do this week,” Nicklaus said. “Everyone is here.”

The ceremonial first tee shot tradition began in 1963 at the Masters with Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod. In 1981, Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen took up the tradition. Ken Venturi joined them just one time in 1983 with Sam Snead joining Nelson and Sarazen in 1984. Snead hit a lone ceremonial tee shot in 2002 and there were no honorary starter again until Palmer picked it up in 2007. Nicklaus joined Palmer last year.