Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player begin 2017 Masters with emotional tee shot ceremony

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Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player begin 2017 Masters with emotional tee shot ceremony

PGA Tour

Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player begin 2017 Masters with emotional tee shot ceremony

AUGUSTA, Ga. – We are off at the 2017 Masters!

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player commenced action Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club just before 7:45 a.m. local time with the annual ceremonial opening tee shots.

This was an especially emotional ceremony as the honorary starters list was trimmed from three to two this year with Arnold Palmer passing in September. “The King” was an honorary starter from 2007-2016 and his memory was honored with patrons wearing pins that proudly declared, “I am a member of ‘Arnie’s Army.’ ”

Palmer’s widow, Kit, was there for the ceremony, too. Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, hosted the ceremony and spoke on Palmer’s absence.

“It is a wonderful but in one respect difficult day,” Payne said. “For the first time in many, many decades, someone is obviously missing from the first tee here at Augusta National and the Masters.

“The almost unbearable sadness we all feel at the passing of Arnold Palmer is surpassed only by the love and affection for him, which will forever reside in our hearts.”

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 06: Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player react as they remember Arnold Palmer as during the first tee ceremony prior to the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Palmer’s green jacket was draped on a chair and a moment of silence was carried out on Palmer’s behalf as well.

The remaining honorary starters then got to work, though. In recent weeks, there had been some friendly ribbing about who would outdrive who, with Nicklaus even employing Rory McIlroy’s help.

According to several on hand for the ceremony, Nicklaus outdrove Player by a few yards. Congrats, Jack!

But in the end it was about the beauty of the ceremony. With the opening tee shot ceremony done, the 2017 Masters is underway.

Here’s video of the full beautiful ceremony, for your pleasure.

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