Golden Bear celebrates 50th anniversary

The great Jack Nicklaus will enjoy yet another Masters milestone moment as he prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first Masters win.

Nicklaus farewelled The Masters as a competitor in 2005 but will again join lifelong friends and competitors Gary Player and Arnold Palmer as Honorary Starters later today to officially open play in the 77th edition of the Masters Tournament.

Jack Nicklaus Jack Nicklaus

Back in 1963 in only his second year as a professional, the then 23-year old Nicklaus held off Tony Lema by just one stroke to become the youngest Masters winner at the time.

50 years, five more victories and a lot of Masters Dinners later, driving down Magnolia Lane into the Augusta National Golf Club is still a special occasion for him, as it is all past Masters champions.

Despite all his history at the club as a champion and having been engaged to conduct course alterations over the years, he admits he still gets the same goosebumps driving in as he has always done.

“The Masters just grabs the imagination of everybody. I still get the same thrill going there today as I did 50 years ago.”

Nicklaus’ last win was of course his epic 1986 victory at age 46, where he shot a final round 7-under 65 to defeat Greg Norman, Tom Kite and Seve Ballesteros – among a host of the game’s best of the day who were in contention on Sunday.

“I read a newspaper article saying I was washed up, 46-year-olds don’t win the Masters,” said Nicklaus.

“When someone leaves the top of their sport and then makes a comeback, you don’t get that very often, it only happens once in a lifetime. Fortunately it was ‘86 for me.”