What Nicklaus did was start missing putts that looked as if they could have been flicked in with a martini olive on the end of a toothpick. Not only did he miss them agonizingly, he began to miss them carelessly, looking as if he had received a person-to-person phone call from the Lord above telling him that this was not his year. Jack would stand over a two-or three-footer for a par or birdie and you could tell by his manner that he knew it was not going in. And it wouldn't. What this in turn did was cause him to slash at a couple of drives and send them into places he had never been before, and to make errors in judgment trying to escape.
In shooting his unbelievable 77 on Friday—the round that turned the Masters into a golf tournament for everybody, making contenders even out of people who had almost missed the cut—Nicklaus used 39 putts, three-putting four times and missing just about everything he stood over. Later that evening had he missed his mouth with a bite of steak, it would have seemed routine.
While Nicklaus struggled on Friday, other things began to occur that offered a striking contrast. First, Ben Crenshaw had a stretch of holes—from the 2nd through the 10th—in which he beat Nicklaus by 10 strokes, playing him head on. As Nicklaus shot a 40 on the first nine, Crenshaw had a four-under 32, eagling the uphill 8th with a drive, a three-wood and a 30-foot putt. For a while Crenshaw, surely the most impressive amateur since Nicklaus, led the Masters as if it were the Southwest Conference tournament back in Austin, Texas. Little Ben would ultimately drop back with a couple of disasters at the evil 12th hole, but collegiate juniors are not supposed to win the Masters anyhow.
With Crenshaw's lead disappearing in the creek and Nicklaus still stumbling around on the greens, it was time for the Masters to become the tournament of the working class. Here now came Gay Brewer, J. C. Snead, Bob Dickson, Bob Goalby, Jim Jamieson, Johnny Miller, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Aaron and, of course, Oosterhuis to make the event look like a protest by the guys in the mines against the man who lives in the big white house on the hill.
Brewer had six birdies and an eagle for a 66; Dickson threw in an eagle and shot a 71; and Chi Chi chipped into the cup on both the 17th and 18th holes for birdies to get himself a 70, a round which saw him take only 23 putts in comparison to Nicklaus' 39. There was all sorts of insanity around. Like these other two foreigners, Jumbo Ozaki, the long-driving Japanese folk hero, and Oosterhuis, hardly more than an English schoolboy, who would perform relentless magic on Sunday's third round, shoot a 68 and assume a three-stroke lead on everyone.
Around the world, the news that someone named Oosterhuis had taken control of the Masters and that someone named Ozaki was a contender must have seemed splendid nonsense. With a name like Oosterhuis you ought to be an engine in a racing car, and with a name like Ozaki you ought to be a motorcycle. But suddenly they were popular with the throngs, not just because they hit soaring tee shots but because they responded warmly to the cheers. Oosterhuis, 6'5", would look tall any-where outside a pro basketball court—or next to George Archer. Jumbo, although only six feet tall, is a jumbo in Japan, nevertheless.
"It would be a good thing for a foreigner to win the Masters," said Chi Chi Rodriguez. "Good for human relations. Very good for England and Oosterhuis, or for Japan and Ozaki, but better than ever for Puerto Rico and Chi Chi."
At this point, the most remarkable thing was that the Masters was being played at all. On Saturday the rains had come, and kept coming, washing out the day. The sky turned the color of a gray flannel suit, and the holes down in the bottomland looked as if they were soon going to have some small towns from Kansas washing across them. It was the first rainout since 1961 when Gary Player became the only foreigner ever to win the Masters, so it seemed appropriate on Sunday that Oosterhuis and Ozaki and Rodriguez continued giving the premises a foreign flavor.
The real flavor of the tournament, however, was provided by Jack Nicklaus' continued rendezvous with doom. If his mysterious 77 on Friday had not given everyone a boost, then his lesser catastrophe in the third round certainly did. There he was hauling himself back into the middle of the race, having just birdied the 13th and 14th holes and apparently headed for the 69 or so that would unnerve all those fellows wearing the Amana caps; there he was going to the pushover 15th hole that he could reach with a driver and a flick of his wrists for another birdie—when once again he became the Nicklaus nobody knew.
What Jack did was hit a bad drive into the mounds on the right, which cost him at least 40 yards in distance. What he did next was hit a three-wood into the pond. What he did next was hit a wedge into the same pond. Result: a triple-bogey 8. An eight on a hole where he ought to make a four.