Palmer Nicklaus rivalry continues


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer will come together for the second consecutive year to start the Masters by hitting the ceremonial first tee shots Thursday at 7:40 a.m.

Make no mistake, it might be just one shot, for fun, but it will be a competition.

“Arnold and I are close friends,” Nicklaus said. “But the rivalry is still there today. I don’t care what Arnold and I do, one doesn’t want the other to get ahead of him.”

Nicklaus said the rivalry continues today even in their golf course design businesses. Nicklaus said he was speaking to Palmer about a specific idea within a design project Nicklaus is working on recently when the nature of their rivalry showed itself.

“He said he didn’t think it was a good thing to do, but that’s because he wasn’t involved,” Nicklaus said. “I think it’s a healthy rivalry.”

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 starters again until Palmer picked it up in 2007. He did it alone for three years before Nicklaus joined him last year.