April 3-92017
2017 coverage by The Augusta Chronicle
Pos Name Tot Thru
Full Leaderboard

Big Three hit opening tee shots to start Masters

Palmer, Player, Nicklaus enjoy honorary role
April 11, 2013 - 9:08 am
Justice Taylor places the name placards for the Masters Tournament's honorary starters at the first tee before the first round Thursday.  ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/STAFF
Justice Taylor places the name placards for the Masters Tournament's honorary starters at the first tee before the first round Thursday.
Back  Photo: 1 of 2  Next
By David Lee |

Three strong drives into the early-morning mist from three golf legends signaled the beginning of the 77th Mas­ters Tournament on Thurs­day.

Arnold Palmer, Gary Play­er and Jack Nicklaus kicked off the Masters with the traditional honorary shots off the No. 1 tee at 7:50 a.m.

Each drive went a little farther than the last, with Pal­mer and Player splitting the fairway and Nicklaus rolling it past the others on the left side.

“I hit it about like the one I hit today, only about 100 yards farther,” Nicklaus said when asked how Thursday’s drive compared to his first in Augusta.

“It’s always a nice experience,” he said. “You come here, it’s a great drive down Magnolia Lane. It’s a great atmosphere out here, the people love it, enthusiastic. We like it. We like coming here, being a part of it. We’re treated well. It’s nice.”

The three men were greeted by rows of patrons. Each had a smile on his face before the shot and a look of determination at address.

Jerry Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open champion, made the early-morning pilgrimage to watch the Big Three. As a 10-year-old, he traveled with his family to the 1964 Memphis Open just to see Palmer – a memory he cherishes.

“He’s still one of my idols, as is Jack and Gary,” Pate said.

After teeing off, Player chatted with old friends outside the clubhouse. At one point, he slapped his stomach to show he’s still fit at 77.

“When I talked about weight training, people thought I was nuts,” he said. “I’m in my 70s and still playing pretty well.

“You can’t let yourself get fat.”

Nicklaus, Palmer and Play­er have earned a combined 13 green jackets, including seven in a row between 1960-66. The sight of all three on the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club invokes memories for many, including the legends themselves.

“We had fun. That’s what it was all about,” Palmer said. “We’ve been doing it together for all our lives, so it’s a great occasion.”


For the second year in a row, the Big Three – Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player – were the honorary starters for the Masters Tournament. Here’s a look at the Big Three’s impressive Masters careers.

Nicklaus Palmer Player

Wins 6 4 3

Top-3 finishes 12 7 6

Top-5 finishes 15 9 8

Top-10 finishes 22 12 15

Masters played 45 50 52

Augusta Guide
Welcome to Augusta.com's coverage of the 2016 Masters, golf's most prestigious event.

The Masters | Events Attractions | Hotels | Weather Nightlife | Restaurants
Golf Courses | Getting Around