PLAYER: The putt on 11 made me feel real good. I knew it was a straight-in putt when I lined it up. I hit it good and waited to hear it drop into the cup. Now I was only three strokes behind. When Arnold bogeyed the 13th I felt even better.
NICKLAUS: On the 13th tee we came on camera. They announced we were on television. I didn't even think about it. On 14 (a par 4) my drive was in a trap and my second in the rough to the left of the green. The question: How good is the lie? I knew I was going to have to hit it over the trap and stop it quickly to stay close to the pin. Good lie. Now I'm thinking about getting it as close to the hole as possible. In fact, I am sort of thinking about hitting it into the hole. I got it close, but had to putt it in.
PLAYER: On that 3-par 15th I hit a two-iron that ran right through the green and over. That's 230 yards! I could stand there all day with a bag of balls and never hit another two-iron that well.
NICKLAUS: You've got to be a little scared standing on the 16th tee. It is one of the most dangerous holes in golf. And it isn't a good hole. The fairway is in poor condition—a lot of clover and bad grass—and the green is not only hard, it slopes the wrong way. This hole sure surprised me today. I hit a big 300-yard drive and then played my second with a one-iron to be safely short of the pond on the right. So what happens? I hit that one-iron about 280 yards, 50 yards farther than I figured. Fortunately, it stayed up on the left side and just missed the water. Then I hit the only shot that really made me mad all day, a chip that went 15 feet past the cup. When I got over the putt I remember telling myself: "Don't leave this one short, you idiot." So I left it short.
PLAYER: The putt I ended up with on 18 must have been 90 feet. I said to myself, "If you can two-putt and have a 68 on a course this hard, you should be as happy as a man can be." My first putt was eight feet past. I was about to hit the second putt when I heard "thump-thump-thump." Somebody was rapping on the television tower. I stepped back and the noise stopped. Then as I started to putt again, "thump-thump-thump." I missed it.
PALMER: Only one birdie while on camera. I must be a bad TV actor. I didn't play particularly well from tee to green, but I putted well. I can't recall ever taking fewer putts on a tournament round (25), but my putter didn't feel unusually good. The 3rd, the 4th, the 8th, the 12th and the 16th were my only putts of any consequence. The others were mostly short ones. And the greens here are perfect. Remember, nobody else has been walking on them, so there are no spike marks to throw a putt off-line. That helps your score, plus having everyone play so well. It's very unusual when three players have only three bogeys. Very unusual. Tomorrow I want to hit the ball just a little bit better.
PLAYER: I probably shouldn't be saying this, but when did you ever see better golf than you did today? Honest, this golf course isn't that easy; there isn't a tougher one in this country. The fast start by those other two made it especially hard for me. Those guys were holing out putts all over the place. I'm even par and playing well after three holes, and I'm 3 down. It's that old story, you've got to have breaks. I think Arnold had them today. The putting is the problem. They were both outhitting me 30 to 50 yards off the tee, but big hitting doesn't ever bother me, ever. On six holes here I hit a four-wood off the tee. I want to play up short of the trouble. And I think I stay out of trouble better than they do. [Player missed only four fairways, Palmer five, Nicklaus six. He missed four greens, as did Nicklaus. Palmer missed six.] All I want to do is play as well tomorrow as I did today, and have some putts start dropping.
NICKLAUS: I'm happy to have that 66. It was easily my best round since the Open. I've been working hard. I figured my game had to fall into place sooner or later. I guess it was about time.
PLAYER: You know, there is tremendous pressure in a match like this. It isn't like a tournament; more like an exhibition. But no tournament ever made me feel that I was under more pressure.
AFTER 27 HOLES