In the 1960s, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player dominated golf's majors and were seen as such a powerful group that they appeared in a regular TV series, "Big Three Golf." Well, now the Big Three will be revived in a formal way. Player will be one of the honorary starters at the Masters, starting in 2012, joining Palmer and Nicklaus.
The three often have played together in the whimsical Par 3 Contest on Wednesday during Masters week. But there is more tradition and honor attached to the Honorary Starter designation, which has been reserved for icons of the sport. The Honorary Starters go to the tee first on Thursday morning, are formally introduced by the Masters chairman, and hit one shot each before the tournament begins.
"I am thrilled to join my friends Jack and Arnold as an Honorary Starter," Player said. "Augusta National is a special place that holds many memories for me. When I won my first Green Jacket in 1961, Arnold put it on my back. In 1962, Arnold beat me in an 18-hole playoff to win his second in three years. The year after my second win in 1974, Jack became the second man at the time to ever win four Masters. I was there to put the Green Jacket on both of them. Moments like those are so special and to be able to experience those memories with friends and competitors is something I will never forget."
Obviously, there are no hard feelings from 1962, when Player, the 1961 champion, presented a green jacket to Arnold Palmer and neglected to give his back. According to Masters lore, Player is the only former champion to have kept one of the jackets. Everyone else puts one on for the dinner and then leaves it at the club.