Fifty years ago, Jack Nicklaus famously won his first Green Jacket aged just 23. Five more jackets later, The Golden Bear is regarded as the greatest Masters player of all time. But could a fifth title for Tiger Woods spoil the party?
A year earlier, Nicklaus had beaten Arnold Palmer to the US Open. As such, he was one of the early favourites for the 1963 Masters.
Augusta hadn’t always been favourable to Nicklaus, and he hadn’t managed to inflltrate the top 15 in three previous outings.
But a change in swing, caused by a hip injury, helped Nicklaus on to a 2-under par score of 286 and his second major title.
More jackets followed in 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986. Six Masters titles in total, a figure nobody could eclipse.
Then came Tiger.
A year younger than Nicklaus in ’63, Woods won the 1997 title with an 18-under par total. Twelve strokes separated him and second place, a record for Augusta.
Four years later, Woods won his second Green Jacket, and his third followed a year later.
Woods’ talent and success lead Augusta officials to undertake some ‘Tiger Proofing’, but this only stopped Woods’ success for two years, as he won the 2005 Masters after a play-off.
Now, back as world number one, there is a sense of inevitability about Woods winning again at Augusta. His closest rival is suffering with a confidence crisis, and recent major winners have been sporadic.
At 37, Woods is already two years older than Nicklaus was when he won his fifth Masters. Victory this year’s Masters, though, would give world’s best golfer a great chance of matching Nicklaus’ record in the future.
Right now, not many would bet against that happening.