Both Brewer and Nichols hit over the dangerous pond at the par-5 15th in two, and if there was a moment when it might have occurred to Nichols that he could pull into a tie, it was here. The tall, quiet former PGA champion was on the green and Brewer was over, confronted with a difficult chip shot. Nichols got his birdie and Brewer chipped poorly, leaving himself a 10-footer to protect his lead.
He rammed it right in and walked away in his lime shirt, looking as if he knew he would sink it all along. That wasn't how he felt, though. "When a boy handed me a cup of water on the 16th tee I could hardly hold it," said Gay. "I didn't know whether I was holdin' the putter or it was holdin' me."
Finally they came to the 18th hole. There he hit a safe drive with a three-wood, avoiding any chance of careening into the two new bunkers on the left side of the fairway, and he made certain that his approach with a six-iron would be on the front edge of the green, leaving him an uphill putt.
"Last year all I thought I had to do was hit my approach anywhere on the green. So I left myself a terrible 40-footer, and three-putted. Experience means somethin' here, man. I talked to myself real good out there and did just what I wanted to." His shot was perfect, roughly 16 feet below the hole. And this time Gay Brewer got the victory that he thoroughly deserved as he putted the ball up for a laugher.
For Arnold Palmer, the man who was fully expected to win, it was a peculiarly dull Masters, even though he wound up finishing fourth. Playing not quite sharply enough to get the ball close to the pins, he was six strokes behind the first-day leader, Bert Yancey, six strokes behind Yancey again the second day and five strokes behind Yancey, Boros and Nichols, who were tied for the lead at the end of 54 holes. On each of these days he hit into the creek that guards the 13th green, turning a good birdie hole into a bogey and two pars.
The nearest Palmer came to a charge—as all of the people who let him dry-clean their clothes like to call it—was in the third round when he seemed headed for a 68, or something even better, going to the 17th green. He three-putted from 20 feet for a bogey and then bunkered his drive at the 18th—the new traps were made for the likes of Palmer and Nicklaus—and bogeyed again, winding up with 70. Briefly on Sunday he seemed to have a chance, but a short eagle putt refused to curl in for him at the 15th, a shot that might have affected everything, even Brewer's putting stroke.
With Palmer and Nicklaus so far off the pace in the first two rounds, the Masters was refreshingly given over to people such as Yancey and a little Englishman named Tony Jacklin, both of whom were there for the first time. Yancey played stylishly all the way, getting the occasional lift of a 60-foot putt dashing into the cup. And Jacklin made pars from behind practically every pine in Georgia, at least until the last day, when he began to think about where he was. For one fleeting minute late Friday he was even the tournament leader.
Still, Yancey's 284 for a third-place finish behind Brewer's 280 and Nichols' 281 was one of the best rookie performances ever at the Augusta National, and Jacklin's tie for 16th will long be remarked upon by the British press.
As unexpected as some of Yancey's or Jacklin's success was, it could not rival the surprise afforded by Jack Nicklaus. Jack had not seemed in his best form coming into the tournament. He had won the Crosby back in January, and nothing more. But the Augusta National course has a habit of bringing out the finest in the top players, especially someone like Nicklaus who can make the best use of the room that the wide fairways of the Masters allow. Regardless of what had come before, it was felt that Nicklaus' youth and power would overcome any other deficiencies. He was the second favorite with oddsmakers at 6 to 1. Palmer, who had been playing beautifully for months, was 4 to l.
Nicklaus began missing the cut on the first hole of the first round when he hit a high, howling hook into the trees. For the next 35 holes he offered his followers a vast assortment of other funny shots. There was a veering five-iron into the pond at the 11th, a low, drawn three-iron into the azaleas at the 13th, a duck hook off the tee at the 14th. On the way to his Friday 79 he missed the first four greens; in fact, he missed the par-3 4th by 70 yards to the left with a four-iron.