The golf world according to Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player

Apr 5, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Gary Player greets Jack Nicklaus after hitting their ceremonial tee shots on the 1st hole during the first round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The golf world according to Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player

PGA Tour

The golf world according to Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player

 

AUGUSTA, Ga. — After once again serving as Masters honorary starters, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player sat down for nearly 90 minutes to answer questions from assembled media. 

The topics ranged from the Par 3 Contest to Tiger Woods, with cameos by James Braid, Stewart Maiden, Roberto de Vicenzo and no shortage of laughs.

With a combined nine green jackets, Nicklaus, 78, and Player, 82, weighed in with some traditional takes on golf’s distance issues and some not-so expected rants on green-reading books. Some of the highlights:

Jack on his grandson’s hole-in-one:

“I didn’t want to be disrespectful because six green jackets is pretty good, but that’s about yourself. But when something happens with your children or your grandchildren, that’s far more special to you. And so yesterday I said was the greatest day I’ve had at Augusta National, and it was just absolutely fantastic.  I loved it.” 

Gary on the Par 3:

“To have your grandson with you there ‑‑ and Jack was in tears, and of course he got us all choked up, as well. It was a remarkable day, and the other remarkable thing is I get an e‑mail from my wife, who is in South Africa at the moment expecting our first great grandchild, she said, ‘Gee, it was so great to see you three guys play so well, and heartwarming to see the hole‑in‑one with Jack.’ So there she is in South Africa watching this. Amazing.” 

Apr 5, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Jack Nicklaus hits his ceremonial tee shot on the 1st hole during the first round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National GC. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Nicklaus hits his ceremonial tee shot Thursday. (Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports)

Jack on how the Nicklaus family celebrated:

“We had dinner here at the club and had a nice evening, with Billy Morris and his wife and our family, and nice, quiet dinner and everybody in the club came over and congratulated GT on his hole‑in‑one.” 

Gary on being flabbergasted at the sight of modern pros using green-reading books:

“The best putter that ever lived, Bobby Locke, taught me a lot of things about reading a green that a lot of players quite honestly don’t know. So when I go to a golf tournament and you see the guys having three practice rounds and they play two rounds, five rounds on the golf course and now they are looking at this book where to putt.”

 Gary on Tiger:

“If you look at him on the practice tee, you look at him in the locker room, you look at him in the dinner the other night, he’s a different person. He’s far more relaxed off the golf course, but he’ll still be as focused on the golf course. So wouldn’t surprise me if he won.” 

Jack reaffirming his faith in golf’s governing bodies:

“The game of golf, I don’t think, would be in the good state that it is as we’re sitting here today, without what the USGA and the R&A have done.”

Jack on Bobby Jones and learning to be self-reliant

“One year, Jones says to me, ‘I was just another golfer and went through what was called my seven lean years, because my seven lean years, every time I made a mistake I ran back to Stewart Maiden and had him tell me what I was doing wrong.  He says, When I learned to be responsible for my own game and learned how to correct myself on the golf course, and managed my own temper, that’s when I became a golfer.’ He became arguably one of the ‑‑ maybe the greatest golfer that ever lived.”

Apr 5, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Gary Player hits a ceremonial tee shot on the 1st hole during the first round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National GC. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Player remains in spectacular form at age 82. (Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports)

 More Gary on Tiger and his teachers:

“I think, and I say this, and with great respect, the reason that Tiger Woods never went on and won 20 majors, is I come back to what I said. He won the U.S. Open by 15 shots and then he’s having a lesson from a pro, and then he’s having a lesson from another pro. How good were these pros that he had lessons from? Those pros were probably marvelous teachers with amateurs, marvelous, but Tiger Woods, having a lesson from guys, could they honestly break 80 on this golf course?  Could they break 85 on this golf course?” 

Jack on if he were commissioner for the day and could intervene on the distance issue:

“I think that Jay, if my name happened to be Jay Monahan, I would be listening and saying, whatever the ruling bodies tell us, that’s what we must support. That’s what we do. I don’t think the Tour or Augusta National or any place should put themselves above the ruling bodies of the game of golf that make the rules. I don’t think Jay will. I think Jay will support whatever happens.”  

Gary on the late Roberto de Vicenzo

“I think that the big issue with Roberto that very few people in America really realized, if you spoke to a young guy today, probably wouldn’t even know how good he was. Roberto De Vincenzo, this is a big if, if he had been born in this country and didn’t have to come here occasionally, and with time changes and with planes in those days … he would have gone down as one of greatest players that ever lived.”

Jack on champions

“I think that if you were a champion in one era, you would be champion in another era. Jones would have been a champion today as Tiger would have been a champion 50 years ago.”

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