Young Nicklaus gets Golden Bear hug after ace

Jack Nicklaus (in yellow) celebrating after his grandson Gary made a hole-in-one on the ninth and final hole during the Masters Par-3 contest at Augusta National, as Gary Player (in black) and eventual winner Tom Watson join in the celebrations.
Jack Nicklaus (in yellow) celebrating after his grandson Gary made a hole-in-one on the ninth and final hole during the Masters Par-3 contest at Augusta National, as Gary Player (in black) and eventual winner Tom Watson join in the celebrations.PHOTO: REUTERS

AUGUSTA (Georgia) • Jack Nicklaus enjoyed a "special" day after watching his 15-year-old grandson and caddie cap a rollicking, fun-filled Masters Par-3 Contest with a hole in one on Wednesday.

G.T. Nicklaus Jr, one of the fabled Golden Bear's 22 grandchildren, was given a swing from the last tee after lugging the six-time champion's bag, and fired his first ace to set off a wild celebration punctuated by a laughing bear hug from his granddad.

"I was just trying to hit it on the green, hit a good shot and set it up. For that to happen was just unbelievable," said Gary Nicklaus' son.

The eldest Nicklaus was in tears.

"What I did didn't make any difference to me. Watching your grandson do something is pretty special," the 18-time Major winner said.

"To watch the kid knock in a hole in one on the biggest venue in the world, wow. It was a very special day, one I'll never forget."

Spectators lined the special 1,060-yard course adjacent to the legendary par-72 layout, where children often caddie for Masters-player parents in a relaxing trek before the gruelling Major test starts.

"It's a nice thing to be able to do on the eve of the tournament," said Rory McIlroy, who can complete a career Grand Slam with a win.

"It's nice to have a little bit of fun. The more relaxed you can be going into Thursday the better."

Tom Watson, 68, playing with fellow greats like Nicklaus and Gary Player, needed only eight putts to post a six-under 21 and edge out Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Belgian Thomas Pieters to become the oldest winner of the tournament's traditional curtain-raiser.

Twice Masters champion Watson overtook the late Sam Snead, who in 1960 won the inaugural contest before winning for a second time 14 years later when he was one month shy of his 62nd birthday.

Nicklaus, 78, also thrilled the packed galleries by going four under, while 82-year-old Player was two under in an exhilarating showing by the former lions of the game.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MASTERS
Day 2: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, tomorrow, 3am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2018, with the headline 'Young Nicklaus gets Golden Bear hug after ace'. Print Edition | Subscribe