Thursday, April 7, 2011

The 1986 Masters

Has it really been 25 years?

It seems a lot shorter than that, but the calendar doesn't lie.

Back in 1986, I was privileged to watch one of the greatest sporting events to ever happen in human history.

Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters golf tournament.

If you watch the above video, you will see people talking about the magic they felt that day. They talk about hearing crowd roars that gave them the chills. A noise level they had never heard before... or since.
You know something special has happened when everyone involved is moved to tears just talking about it.

It wasn't a surprise to see Jack Nicklaus win the Masters.
He had won the tournament five other times before.
But this time was different.

He was 46 years old.

Seeing Jack Nicklaus win this tournament was about as improbable as seeing George Foreman knock out Michael Moorer to become Heavyweight Champion of the World at age 45. It was something that seemed to defy logic and common sense. Something like that just can't happen. But it did.

Jack Nicklaus had been my golfing idol since I was very young. My father was a big fan of his, and we enjoyed watching his tournaments together. The first golf book I ever bought was "Golf My Way" by Nicklaus.

For my money, he will always be "The Greatest Of All Time".

Some people are ready to hand that title to Tiger Woods. Not me.
I've never been a fan of Tiger Woods.

I don't deny that Tiger Woods has physical skills that few other golfers possess. But he had a big advantage from the very start. In 1996, Tiger Woods signed endorsement contracts to promote corporate golf products during his pro career. He got $40 million from Nike and another $20 million from Titleist.
Tiger was set for life, financially, before he even started.
That gave him the advantage of being able to go for broke on every shot in every tournament.

Tiger Woods never had to back off a shot because he was thinking about his mortgage or his kids college fund.

Jack Nicklaus' career PGA Tour earnings were $5,723,192
Tiger had made ten times Jacks career earnings before he took his first swing as a professional.
Some of the old time greats played because they loved the game.

And Jack Nicklaus will always be the greatest.
I don't care if Tiger wins 20 majors.
When Tiger Woods fires a six under par on the back nine to win The Masters in 2022, then you can come talk to me.

The Masters Tournament starts today in Augusta, Georgia.
And I will be watching, like I always do.