Thirty years since 'Golden Bear' turned back Masters clock

Sun Apr 3, 2016 10:20am EDT
 
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By Tim Wharnsby

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Three decades ago, Jack Nicklaus was no longer the 'Golden Bear' and had been labeled the 'Olden Bear' by some.

He was six years removed from his last major victory and two years distanced Nicklaus from his most recent PGA Tour win when he arrived in Augusta, Georgia for the 1986 Masters.

He had been counted out as a major contender in 1980, but went on to win both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship that year.

Perhaps it was hasty to dismiss him as a genuine threat for the 1986 Masters aged 46, but there were no signs that Nicklaus had another major victory in him at the start of a week that stunningly ended with him landing a record sixth Green Jacket.

"I'm not going to quit, guys," Nicklaus remarked after his sensational win. "Maybe I should. Maybe I should say goodbye. Maybe that'd be the smart thing to do. But I'm not that smart."

Nicklaus had missed the cut in three of his first seven tournaments in 1986. His swing was a mess as he summoned his long-time instructor Jack Grout to Miami a few weeks prior to the Masters.

Grout, who was recovering from open-heart surgery, told his prized student that he had become too "handsy" with his swing.

Nicklaus worked hard to find his swing, incorporated a chipping tip from Chi Chi Rodriguez via his son and caddie Jackie Jr. and put an oversized putter in his bag.   Continued...

 
U.S. golfing great Jack Nicklaus poses for a picture with compatriot Ben Crenshaw (L) and Gary Player of South Africa (R) after playing in the par 3 event held ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files