The Unforgettable '86 Masters: Jack Nicklaus' Victory Lap

By | September 30, 2021

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One of the most iconic finishes in sports. (golfdigest)

The Masters Tournament held in Augusta, Georgia owns some of the most memorable moments in the history of golf. Of course, probably the most indelible of all of those classic memories came during the 1986 Masters. That year, Jack “Golden Bear” Nicklaus took the victory at an incredible age of 46 years. It marked his 18th and final major, cementing him as one of, if not, the greatest golfer in the sport’s illustrious history.

His momentous victory came despite incredibly low expectations for the Hall of Famer. In ‘86 Nicklaus had missed three cuts or withdrew in four of the seven events he entered. He earned his best finish of 39th in Hawaii. In his own words, “Going into the tournament I had no expectations about winning, at all. I love playing golf. I wanted to stay part of the Tour. I really loved playing golf.”

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Few career cappers can match Nicklaus' '86 Masters. (vancouversun)

Prepping For Augusta

At that point in his career, Nicklaus wasn’t all-in on golf. As he said, “I was between things in my life. My business was fine but it didn’t take up all my time. I’d play some golf, 12 to 14 tournaments a year, not enough to keep me sharp, but enough to be somewhat competitive. I was neither fish nor fowl. I wasn’t really a golfer.

Nevertheless, old habits die hard and the wiley vet began preparing for the Masters as he always did. “When January rolled around I started thinking about the Masters, I started practicing for the Masters and getting ready for it and picked my tournaments and everything else based on getting to Augusta.