Originally created 03/12/98

Augusta National to honor Nicklaus



Jack Nicklaus has produced more great days than anybody in Masters Tournament history. This year, the 58-year-old Golden Bear will be honored for his heroics with Jack Nicklaus Day on Tuesday, April 7.

Augusta National announced on Tuesday that it will honor Mr. Nicklaus two days before the tournament begins with a brief ceremony on the east practice tee in front of the clubhouse at 5:30 p.m. A plaque will be dedicated in his honor, but the placement is not known. All Tuesday practice-round ticket holders are invited to attend.

"It's a pleasure to designate Tuesday as Jack Nicklaus Day," Augusta National chairman Jack Stephens said in a statement. "Jack has made numerous contributions to the tournament, and his six Masters wins are unprecedented."

This year marks Mr. Nicklaus' 40th straight appearance in the Masters, a streak he began as an amateur in 1959.

Mr. Nicklaus' accomplishments are numerous, including a record six titles (1963, '65, '66, '72, '75 and '86), a then-record 17-under-par total in 1965 (surpassed by Tiger Woods' 18-under last year), most tournaments under par (21), most rounds played (147) and most rounds in the 60s (38). Of the 2,646 holes Mr. Nicklaus has played in the Masters, 83 percent have been at par or better.

Mr. Nicklaus was doing course design work in California and New Mexico on Wednesday and was unavailable for comment, according to a representative of his office in North Palm Beach, Fla.

Mr. Nicklaus' 40th consecutive appearance in the tournament isn't his only achievement of longevity. Mr. Nicklaus has played in 144 consecutive major championships, dating to the 1962 Masters, a streak which is in jeopardy since the United States Golf Association hasn't offered him a special exemption for this summer's Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. The USGA may still offer a spot in the field as late as May.

Mr. Nicklaus Day follows the 1995 honoring of Arnold Palmer, when a plaque was placed next to a newly constructed water fountain behind the 16th tee. It was the first time since April 2, 1958, that a player had been honored.

The bridge leading to the 12th green was named for Ben Hogan and the bridge in front of the 13th tee was named for Byron Nelson that year.

Only one other golfer has been so honored by the Augusta National, Gene Sarazen in 1955, with the bridge on No. 15.