AUGUSTA, Ga. – While no one could confirm nor deny that Jordan Spieth had to be carted off after eating too much at the Masters Champions Dinner on Tuesday night, Jack Nicklaus did offer his take on the evening’s events.
“I thought that we probably had the best dinner that we've ever had,” Nicklaus said, “and not so much from the standpoint of food … I think the food was probably the best we ever had, too. But it wasn't from that standpoint, it was the standpoint that it got us talking.”
With all but three possible past champions (Jackie Burke, Angel Cabrera and Phil Mickelson) in attendance, Nicklaus was pressed during the dinner by Tom Watson to share his personal experiences playing the second nine during Nicklaus’ historic Masters victory in 1986.
“Fifteen minutes later, shot by shot,” Watson chimed in. “Actually, he said, ‘Do you want me to go shot by shot?’ I said, ‘Hell yes, I want you to go shot by shot.’”
Added Nicklaus: “Shot by shot, yard by yard.”
“I was looking around the table,” Watson continued. “The guys at the table were just – they wanted to hear because everybody at that table had been in that position before, winning the tournament, and you could understand they wanted to hear the inside, what Jack was thinking inside as he played the last nine holes.”
Though Nicklaus had his fellow champions captivated, the star of the night was arguably the defending champ himself, Hideki Matsuyama, who impressed all by giving a three-minute speech, all in English and without using notes.
“I was watching him before sitting in the middle between Ben Crenshaw and Chairman [Fred] Ridley, and he was sitting there with his eyes like this and his hands were moving, and I could tell he was very nervous,” Watson said. “He made the speech. He didn't miss a beat. He didn't miss a word. After the speech was over, he goes, ‘Whew,’ like that. Simultaneously, everybody got up to give him a standing ovation … because we really appreciated the effort that he put in to go three minutes in English when he had a hard time doing it.”
And then, Nicklaus added, “Gary [Player] responded in Japanese, and I thought that was terrific. I have no idea what Gary said, but that's all right.”