1986 Masters: Sam Randolph remembers ‘electricity in the air’

Jack Nicklaus receives the Green Jacket from 1985 winner Bernhard Langer.

Sam Randolph couldn’t get the microphone out of his hands fast enough. The then-21-year-old was the Masters’ low amateur for the second consecutive year in 1986 – another addition to a resume that led some to tag him as one of those “next Nicklauses.” But Randolph knew the trophy ceremony on Augusta National’s 18th green belonged to the real Golden Bear.

“I just remember saying what a great week I had and what an awesome back nine he had,” Randolph says, “then thinking, ‘Hey, let’s get to the real thing.’ ”

Afterward, Randolph had to fight through the excited gallery – all seemingly chanting Nicklaus’ name – on his way to Butler Cabin.

The champion had the luxury of a full security detail. Randolph said it was tough just to keep up.

Randolph shot a final-round 73 that Sunday to tie for 36th at 5-over 293. Only three men, including Nicklaus, had earned back-to-back amateur honors at Augusta before him.

Randolph, who played with Nicklaus in the final two rounds of the 1985 Masters, finished play as Nicklaus was just beginning his back-nine charge.

The University of Southern California star – he was a three-time first-team All-American and the 1985 U.S. Amateur champ – watched the tournament telecast with friends and family in a cabin along the 10th hole.

“Every time they made a change on the scoreboard at 18, you could hear the roars,” Randolph says. “You could hear the roars (from 15 and 16) even up on the 10th hole. The electricity in the air was the most I’ve ever seen. It was working its way up through the trees and all over the place.”

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