Multiple Masters champions Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player reflect on an unusually emotional Tiger Woods at this year's Champions' Dinner

Jack Nicklaus: I’ve Never Seen Tiger That Way

The Champions’ Dinner has been an Augusta institution since 1952 when 1951 champion, Ben Hogan, first suggested the idea to Augusta National’s Clifford Roberts.

Since then, it has grown in status, with reigning champions first getting to choose the menu in the mid-1980s.

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Tiger Woods has, of course, got to choose five of those menus now, with 26 former champions sitting down to savour Tiger’s latest choices on Tuesday night this week.

Among them were the 2020 Masters honorary starters, six-time champion Jack Nicklaus and three-time winner Gary Player.

Gary Player & Jack Nicklaus spoke to the press after serving as honorary starters at this year’s Masters (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Both commented in their joint press conference on Tiger’s unusually emotional demeanour at this year’s dinner.

This will perhaps come as less of a surprise to anyone who witnessed Tiger’s teary performance in his own press conference earlier this week.

We’ve all grown used to slightly more detached and matter-of-fact press conferences throughout Tiger’s career.

“Well, Tiger was really remarkable at the dinner this year as a host,” Player commented.  “It was very heartwarming listening to him speak.

“He said he was on the way to the golf course and he had to stop because he had tears in his eyes and paused for a little while on the road because a lot of memories were going through his mind very quickly… He paused for a while and he spoke very, very well, and it was a lovely evening.”

Tiger Woods with Jack Nicklaus at the 2002 Champions’ Dinner (Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images)

“Gary was right, Tiger was very emotional,” Nicklaus added. “I’ve never seen Tiger that way.

“But it was good… it’s always good – you always walk away with some feeling of something that you hadn’t had before.”

Nicklaus went on to reflect on an earlier conversation with Woods about the advancing years taking their toll with injuries. “You’re going to get more – Tiger understands that,” Nicklaus revealed.

“I think he’s very real about it, and we talked about it. He says, ‘I’m having more fun out with Charlie and Sam [his kids] and watching them do different things and be vulnerable’.”

Tiger spoke earlier this week about the thrill of running into son Charlie’s arms after winning last year (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“He’s been enjoying his time at home and… he still wants to play. I think Gary asked him, and he said, ‘Yeah, I hope I have… I think I have another one in me’. And he may. He may have more than one in him.”

One thing’s for sure though – however uncharacteristically emotional Tiger may have been pre-tournament, once he sets foot on the hallowed Georgia turf, his renowned game face will be firmly back on just as it was on Sunday April 14 last year.

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