“Maybe … Yes sir!”
It’s hard not to think about Verne Lundquist’s immortal words when we recall Jack Nicklaus’ Masters triumph on April 13, 1986.
It’s considered by many to be the greatest Masters.
Lundquist’s famous call came at the 17th hole, where the 46-year-old Nicklaus seized the outright lead in his quest to become the oldest player to don the green jacket.
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) December 3, 2016
But how did we arrive at that magical moment?
Nicklaus spent all of his first two rounds at even or over par. He didn’t reach red numbers until the ninth hole of his third round. He finished his third round at 2 under and four shots off the lead.
In the final round, Nicklaus didn’t seriously threaten the leaders on the front nine, while the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Tom Kite and Nick Price were battling it out. Nicklaus kept his distance, playing his first eight holes at even par.
He started to make his epic run with birdies at Nos. 9, 10 and 11. He then played his next three holes bogey-birdie-par and was still four strokes off Ballesteros’ lead … but things can change quickly at Augusta National.
Nicklaus electrified the gallery by draining a 12-foot eagle putt at the par-5 15th to climb within two. His furious rally was on.
He made a short birdie after a brilliant tee shot at the par-3 16th, and by the time he reached the 17th green, he was the co-leader at 8 under. As his birdie putt at 17 zeroed in on its target, Lundquist uttered those three famous words. Nicklaus took a one-stroke lead, then made par at 18 and waited as the drama unfolded behind him.
A red-hot Norman had strung together four consecutive birdies to catch Nicklaus at 9 under through 17, but a poor approach missed the green at 18, leading to a bogey that dropped him one stroke behind Nicklaus.
And so it was, on this day in history, the Golden Bear won his sixth Masters and 18th major title.
Thirty-one years later, his back-nine 30 remains one of golf’s most unforgettable performances.