SI Vault
 
YOUNG JACK THE MIGHTY MASTER
Alfred Wright
April 15, 1963
The old men challenged sharply at Augusta but, in the end, strength and youth conquered as big Jack Nicklaus used his huge drives and near-flawless tactics to become the youngest Masters champion ever. Only one stroke behind Nicklaus was Champagne Tony Lema, a newcomer to the Masters and a bubbly threat to pro golf's best
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 15, 1963

Young Jack The Mighty Master

The old men challenged sharply at Augusta but, in the end, strength and youth conquered as big Jack Nicklaus used his huge drives and near-flawless tactics to become the youngest Masters champion ever. Only one stroke behind Nicklaus was Champagne Tony Lema, a newcomer to the Masters and a bubbly threat to pro golf's best

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

"I felt just fine when I arrived," he said Sunday, "but I played poorly the first three rounds. I wasn't hitting the ball at all well. I really had to work to get it around in the scores I made. Yet today I played so well I could hardly believe it. Really, I could just as well have had a 63. I missed seven putts inside seven feet and didn't hole one over six feet. I've been told I'm not a good eight-foot putter, and I'm beginning to realize it. But it was a great win for Jack."

Certainly nothing else in the tournament gave the sentimentalists the pleasure that they got from the marvelous performance of 50-year-old Sam Snead. Playing on a sore foot that has bothered him for several weeks and competing in only his third tournament of the year, Sam was never more than one over par, and never stood worse than sixth. Probably nothing in his entire career—save the victory that always eluded him in the U.S. Open—would have given him as much pleasure as winning his fourth Masters, and beating Nicklaus, too. Ever since their thrilling head-to-head television match at Pebble Beach last fall, old Sam has nursed a deep grudge against Nicklaus for cavalierly keeping him waiting on the first tee. Jack, it seems, had arrived late the night before and insisted on a long practice session before the cameras could turn. When the match finally started, Snead almost blew it on the first few holes while he was getting his temper under control. But his revenge was not to be at the Masters, where his tired old limbs made him bogey the 70th and 72nd holes after he had struggled into his momentary lead.

The Big Three, however, may very well have felt a chill wind on the back of their necks after the performance of Champagne Tony Lema. He arrived at Augusta trailing Nicklaus, the lowest of the trio on the money list, by only a couple of thousand dollars. After a perfectly adequate 74 through the gales of Thursday, he shot a superb 69 on Friday, one of the best rounds of the tournament, excepting Nicklaus' 66.

Even if the Big Three may not welcome a Big Fourth among them, everyone else would, for Tony is a decidedly refreshing addition to the celebrities of golf. Before he went out on the course for the final round on Sunday he was standing on the second floor of the Augusta National clubhouse talking with Dan Sikes, another young touring pro. When Sikes mentioned that Tony had a chance to win, Lema replied, "I tell you I'm so charged up right now I could walk right out that door and through the balcony railing and out over the air to the first tee." Tony talks like that, and the things he says will doubtless be entertaining everyone for a long time to come.

With his purse at the Masters, Lema has now pushed Arnold Palmer into fourth place on the list of money winners and left himself less than $700 behind second-place Gary Player.

He still has a long way to go to catch Jack Nicklaus, however, for Big Jack is fast becoming the mighty man of golf. Masters officials have to get his measurements now for that green winner's coat. The size is 44 regular, and they may as well file it where it will be handy. Jack may earn a few more of those coats in the future.

1 2 3 4