Monday, August 31, 2009

It'll be Jack and Arnie on the first tee at the Masters

It's going to be Arnie and Jack on the first tee at the Masters next April.

Jack Nicklaus has accepted Augusta National's invitation to join Arnold Palmer as the tournament's honorary starter next year. Nicklaus had initially been reluctant to become an honorary starter but he'll be there next year with Arnie for what should be a terrific scene.

Nicklaus played 45 Masters, winning six of them, including his memorable 1986 victory when he was 46 years old.

Between them, Nicklaus and Palmer won 10 Masters and defined nearly 50 years of professional golf.

“I have had such a long-standing appreciation and love affair with Augusta National and the Masters Tournament, and this honor is a wonderful way for me to say thank you to the many patrons who have supported me over the decades,” Nicklaus said in a statement released by Augusta National.

“I am also delighted to join my longtime friend Arnold on the tee. I have always had great respect for Arnold and his legacy at the Masters, and I did not, in any way, want to infringe on the opportunity for Arnold to have and enjoy this Masters tradition for himself. He is so deserving of this honor, and thus I felt it was his time, not mine.

"Recently, I was invited by both Augusta National and Arnold to join him on the first tee, and because he enthusiastically supported the invitation, it became an easy decision for me.”

Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod began the honorary starter tradition in 1963. Later, Byron Nelson, Gene Sararzen, Ken Venutri, Sam Snead and Palmer took the role.


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