The Golden Bear’s grandson thrills Masters crowd with an ace of his own

Jack Nicklaus probably thought he had seen everything in golf, and then something happened on Wednesday afternoon that brought a tear to his eye.

Gary ‘G.T.’ Nicklaus, Jr., far right, celebrates hitting a hole-in-one on the ninth tee with his grandfather Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2018 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Jack’s grandson G.T. Nicklaus, who was caddying for the Golden Bear in the Masters Par-3 Contest, stepped up to the tee on the final hole and tried his luck, just for fun. Of course, the ball sailed over a broad lake, landed safely on the green and then trickled and tracked and after the longest while plopped into the cup for a hole-in-one.

Shocking? Sure, but G.T., the 15-year-old son of former PGA Tour player Gary Nicklaus, Jr. and a freshman at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, has played before crowds before. In the PNC Father/Son Challenge with his grandfather as a playing partner. In the Florida state high school championship tournament, too, where he shot an 85 as an eight-grader a few years ago.

“You always want the best for your kids and your grandkids,” Nicklaus told ESPN. “But when you’ve got a grandson who comes along and the kid makes a hole-in-one at the biggest venue in the world on day when he is caddying for his grandfather…Wow.

“This is very, very special…One obviously I’ll never forget.”

Back in December, when Jack and G.T. teamed to finish 15th at the PNC Father/Son Challenge in Orlando, Jack said “He likes being in front of people. I always looked at playing golf out in front of people as fun, and I think he has pretty much the same attitude.”

The Masters Par-3 is designed to be entertaining for players and their families, with little kids bopping along in tiny caddy outfits and teenagers, like G.T., sometimes playing a shot or two.

For one of the kids to outdo the pros, however, and get the loudest cheer of the day, is almost too much to ask. G.T.’s ace turned into a bigger story than the fact that Tom Watson, 68, won the nine-hole event with a score of six-under-par 21. He’s the oldest champion in the history of the Par-3 and played in a group with Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Here’s one last quote from Jack last December about G.T., one of his and Barbara’s 22 grandchildren.

“G.T. is a big kid and has the potential to be a very talented player,” Jack said. “He is already a nice player, and his game should only get better as time goes on. So only time will tell whether he will be and wants to be a really good player. For now, I just want him to enjoy this experience, just as I will enjoy it.”

On Thursday morning Nicklaus and Player will tee off at No. 1 as honorary starters for the first round of the Masters. Will G.T. carry his grandfather’s bag? Might be a good idea, for good luck.

[Wade’s return has not significantly improved Heat in stat that counts most]

[Wildest man in March Madness once coached CBA team in West Palm]

[Like Zach Thomas and Wes Welker, Amendola is a Texas Tech tough guy]

Masterful Bernhard Langer leaving most of the kids behind at the age of 58

 

AUGUSTA, Ga. – While everybody was watching Friday to see if Tom Watson might have a shot at making the cut in his final Masters, Boca Raton’s own senior star was quietly putting himself into contention to win the tournament.

OK, there’s really not much of a chance that Bernard Langer will take his third green jacket at the age of 58, but try this contrast on for size.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 08:  Bernhard Langer of Germany plays his shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Bernhard Langer plays his shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Former Masters champion Ian Woosnam, also 58, announced Friday that he won’t play the tournament again after shooting rounds of 82 and 81 to miss the cut by a mile.

Langer, meanwhile, carefully worked his way around Augusta National in one-over 73. Add that to his opening 72 and the sturdy German has assured himself of making the Masters cut for the third time in the last four years.

When he walked off the course Friday, Langer was tied for 19th place, seven shots behind leader Jordan Spieth, who was playing the front nine. Oh, and he’s tied with World No. 1 Jason Day at the tournament’s halfway point, too.

Is it possible to do more at the age of 58? Only if you’re somebody like Jack Nicklaus, who tied for sixth here in 1998.

Nicklaus was playing very little competitive golf back then, however, while Langer is the reigning star of the Champions Tour. He has 26 victories on the senior circuit, third all-time behind Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino. He won out there with the anchor putter and he’s won already since it was banned.

[Ernie Els corrects the record; he merely six-putted his first hole at Masters]

[Just because Tiger’s not playing doesn’t mean Masters contenders aren’t talking about him]

[Dolphins got A.J. Duhe with 13th overall pick and they’re feeling lucky again]

The guy just always seems to be there. Check out the photos from Jack’s epic comeback Masters win in 1986, for instance. That’s Bernhard slipping the green jacket onto Nicklaus’ shoulders as the previous year’s champion.

Langer’s two Masters wins, as a matter of fact, give him two more than Day and Rory McIroy and Rickie Fowler, and one more, at the moment, than Spieth.

There is much more to say about Langer, but we’ll stop here. Might be better to save some of this stuff for the weekend if he starts quietly climbing up the leaderboard again.

Tom Watson on chest hair and other manly topics as he prepares for final Masters

 

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tom Watson plays his 43rd and final Masters this week at the age of 66. He wants to make the cut, naturally, and he wants at some point to see his name on the leaderboard next to today’s young superstars.

Last time that happened was 2010, when Watson opened with a 67 and wound up tied for 18th with Adam Scott and Ernie Els, among others.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 05:  Tom Watson of the United States speaks to the media during a practice round prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tom Watson speaks to the media prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Speaking of golf’s new generation, Watson favors Rory McIlroy above all the rest. Here are some of his thoughts on Rory and Jordan Spieth and Jason Day and all the rest.

“Rory’s the guy,” Watson said during a pre-tournament press conference. “He’s my pick this week. He’s just got a tremendous talent. He hits the ball high. I think it’s always been an advantage to hit the ball high on this golf course.

“These young guys, they have the skills to do different things with the golf ball when they have to, and Jordan can really maneuver the ball when he has to.

“Rory, he can emasculate a golf course. He flat can. He hits the ball high and so far. Look how good he did at Congressional.

“And Jason Day, he hits the ball very high, same trajectory, almost with every club, it seems like, from the wedge to the driver.

“I’m very impressed about how they play the game, but I’m equally impressed by how they handle themselves outside of just playing the game. They are genuinely nice people. They help people out. They treat the fans well. They kid around with the fans and they do things that I never did. I had my blinders on. If I hit it in the fairway, I was down in the fairway, and I was all game.

“And the other thing is that they are working out on their bodies more than we did…What is it with these really short-sleeved shirts, tight? They put one of those things on me and all they saw was chest hair and that I needed a manssiere.”

[Just because Tiger’s not playing doesn’t mean Masters field isn’t talking about him]

[A.J. Duhe came to Dolphins on 13th overall pick and they’re feeling lucky again]

[Gase showing signs of openness that did not come naturally to Philbin]