1986 Masters: Jackie Nicklaus was cool and calm – until the 15th
Monday, April 4, 2011
Making victory extra sweet for Jack Nicklaus was the fact he was able to share it with his oldest son, Jackie, who was on the bag. It wasn’t the first time Jack had Jackie on the bag. In fact, the two came close to winning a U.S. Open in 1982 at Pebble Beach.
Tom Watson would win that famous Open at Pebble, and what Jackie took from the experience was that he got far too emotional during play. So at Augusta four years later, Jackie, a good player who was coming off a victory at the North & South Amateur, made a concerted effort to stay calmer.
Father and son had some great exchanges as the day wore on. When Jack pulled a 3-wood slightly and nearly caught a branch down the left side of the par-5 13th, his son said, “Dad, that’s not good on a 24-year-old heart.”
When the two stood in the fairway at No. 15, with Jack prepared to go at the flag with his second shot, he turned to Jackie and said, “How far do you think a 3 will go here?”
“I think it will go a long way,” he answered.
The two were talking score, not what club Jack was about to hit.
As far as Jackie staying levelheaded and calm, that plan pretty much went out the window when the elder Nicklaus buried his eagle putt on that 15th green. Jackie jumped so high his dad told him he should have played basketball, not golf, at the University of North Carolina.
“He holed that,” said Jackie, “and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, look out!’ ”
On the par-3 16th, Nicklaus hit a towering 5-iron that took off in the direction of the flag. “Be right,” Jackie called out.
Jack, as he reached down to pick up his tee, cracked, “It is.”
Said Jack: “It was sort of a cocky remark, and I don’t normally make that. But I had so much confidence in what was going on, that’s what I did.”
After a birdie at 17 and two putts for a clinching par at 18, father and son embraced and made their way off the course.
“I love that picture,” Jack said, “just watching the two of us walking off.”