Countdown to the Masters 2011 - Day 46: 1986 Masters Nicklaus the oldest winner


Welcome to Day 46 of the Today's Golfer Countdown to The Masters 2011. Every day from February 17th until the big day when the season's first Major tees off, April 7th, we will be bringing you some of our favourite memorable moments from The Masters since the tournament started in 1934.

Jack Nicklaus, with his son Jackie on the bag won his final, and 18th major championship, amidst some of the most emotional scenes ever witnessed at Augusta National. The cheers bounced off the redwoods as Nicklaus came from way back, to mount a charge on the back nine on Sunday.

Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the Golden Bear (who hadn’t holed a long putt all week) started to hole everything he looked at. Helped admittedly by both Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman stalling towards the end (Seve finding water on the 15th, and Norman slicing his approach into the crowd at the last) Nicklaus became the most unlikely of winners, at the age of 46.

Nicklaus read a column at the beginning of the week which said he was “still royalty, even if at the age of 46, his clubs are rusty” and it really annoyed him. He didn’t like to be written off like that. His friend posted the column on the refrigerator at the house he was staying at, and he looked at it for motivation all week.

His back nine of 30 was as surreal as it was unexpected. He made birdies at the 10th and 11th; and by the 12th, Jackie (his son) said he could see tears in his Dad’s eyes. Another birdie at the par-5 13th followed, and then he made an amazing eagle at the 15th.

As you can imagine, the roars and cheers echoing around the pines and dogwoods alerted everyone else on the course to what he was doing.

Two more lengthy putts at the 16th and 17th saw him make two more birdies. And that was all he needed.

Nicklaus hadn’t won a major for six years, and by the time he had finished, grown men were openly weeping.