Nicklaus lifts Masters gloom with decision to play

They are forecasting a washout here tomorrow although that very nearly came two days early yesterday as tears of joy fairly cascaded through the pines as it was revealed that there would be a Golden Bear in their midst after all.

They are forecasting a washout here tomorrow although that very nearly came two days early yesterday as tears of joy fairly cascaded through the pines as it was revealed that there would be a Golden Bear in their midst after all.

"Jack's playing," went the whisper as Augusta National filled up some time after dawn and there was no - absolutely no - need to say to which Jack they were referring. Nicklaus, the six-times Masters champion, had been considered a likely non-starter as he grieved over the death of his 17-month-old grandson, Jake, in a hot-tub tragedy at his parents' home last month.

"I had cancelled everything after Jake passed away to spend some time with Steve [his son]," he said. "And Steve wanted to play golf, because he didn't have anything else to do, either. He loves it up here and said, 'Can we go to Augusta?' And anyway, after playing golf, Steve said to me 'go play in The Masters'. 'I want to play,' I said. 'But I don't have much of a golf game.' Steve said, 'Don't worry, you'll have a golf game'."

Indeed, if the portents of the identity of his caddie mean anything, then Nicklaus will have some game. In 1986, when the then 46-year-old became the oldest winner at The Masters, Jackie Jnr was carrying his father's bag. This time around the pair will be reunited for what looks certain to be the 65-year-old's farewell.

"This will be the last time when somewhere in my head I believe that I might be able to shoot a reasonable round," Nicklaus said. "I'm not going to come back - I think you all know me well enough. I'm not going to come back and clutter up the field if I don't have to."

Poignancy will also stalk Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who confessed that "there could be a problem emotionally if I happen to get into contention with a few holes to go". Harrington's father Paddy, who was 72 last week, has terminal cancer of the oesophagus but will still be watching avidly on the television back home in Dublin as his son tries to win his first major. It is likely to be the last time Harrington Snr will have the chance to do so.

"I don't think it would be too much of a problem until the very end, but then it could be quite difficult," said Harrington, who as the world No 6 is easily the highest ranked European.

"Bob Rotella [his sports psychologist] said to me, 'well, if that's the biggest problem we're going to have this week, then we're not going to worry too much about it'. We'll wait until I get into that situation to see how I can handle it."

Perhaps it was in the light of such perspective that Tiger Woods felt able to laugh and joke his way through the customary questioning after having lunch with Nicklaus. His golf game, the world No 2 said , is returning to somewhere near its best after last year's swing changes and he feels that this week could very well mark his ninth major and his first in 11. "I fancy my chances," he said. In fact, Woods feels he may be on the verge of something even bigger than his fourth Masters title. "I won the Masters by 12 shots in '97," he said. "I changed my game. Do I want to go back to that? No, I don't. I want to become even better and that's why I made the swing change. I'm starting to see the fruits of it now."

Unfortunately, if the weather forecasters are to believed, Augusta may not bear witness to those fruits until Friday. Thunderstorms are threatening to wipe out any chance of play tomorrow, making it the ninth of 15 US tournaments this year to be hit by a weather delay. Rainy days in Georgia.

* In his practice round yesterday Sergio Garcia recorded the first albatross ever on the second hole at Augusta.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence