Jack Nicklaus was reduced to tears as he started the 2017 Masters alongside fellow great Gary Player as the pair teed off on the first hole without the much-missed Arnold Palmer, with tributes paid to the late American on Thursday morning at Augusta National.
Seven-time major winner Palmer died at the age of 87 last September, shortly before the United States’s successful Ryder Cup campaign, leading to a number of tributes and fond memories being shared about the golfing legend.
Along with record 18-time major winner Nicklaus nine-time major winner Player, Palmer would perform the ceremonial tee-shot that officially opens the Masters each year in recognition of the trio’s success at Augusta. Despite not taking part in 2016, Palmer was still in attendance to watch his two friends hit their shots down the first fairway, as he watched from a white chair next to the tee.
This year’s occasion was an emotionally charged one that saw that same white chair placed next to the tee box, along with Palmer’s Green Jacket from one of his four Masters victories laid on top of it.
Paying tribute to his compatriot, Nicklaus lifted his cap in the air in honour of Palmer, before whipping away tears from his eyes.
Both Nicklaus and Player would proceed to tee-off down the fairway to officially open the first major of the year, where every patron who enters will receive a special badge that reads “I am a member of Arnie’s Army” on it.