At the 9th hole on Friday Palmer had his second shot come to rest in a depression caused by a chair seat by the green. He thought he deserved a free lift. He played his ball and made a bogey 5. He next played a provisional ball and made a par. He then went to the back nine, the incident under review.
What angered him was that he knew, or believed he knew, that the chair had been occupied by a tournament official. If so, he reasoned, it was no different from a TV tower or something you can freely drop away from. The full rules committee said no, and this news was delivered on the 12th tee, before Palmer was about to play the most dangerous hole on the course, that marvelous par-3 over Rae's Creek. Palmer promptly hit an eight-iron into the front bunker, hit the bunker shot over the green, slashed back across the green into the front bunker again, blasted out and missed a three-foot putt for a triple-bogey 6. He snarled all the way—about the ruling, the bunker, the greens, all the ships at sea and the eight years since he last won a Masters.
Meanwhile, Nicklaus was left to join Palmer as the only other four-time Masters winner. And in so doing Jack established himself as a man who has now taken the tournament in just about every conceivable way. He took it coming down the stretch by a stroke. That was when he first won it, nine years ago, over Tony Lema. He won it by shooting records, a 64 and a 271 and by nine strokes. That was in 1965. He won in a playoff, and back to back, in 1966. And now he has won it clumsily, with a 68-71-73-74, frightened only of destiny and that old honey child, Poa annua.
And, of course, frightened by himself. The toughest opponent he has ever had to face.