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Armour: Watson Wins Par-3 Contest, While Nicklaus’ Grandson Gets an Ace

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Apr 4, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; From left Gary Player , Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus shake hands on the 9th green during the Par 3 Contest before the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

By Nancy Armour |

This was the most memorable finish at the Masters yet for Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus’ grandson, G.T., aced the ninth hole in the Par-3 Contest on Wednesday afternoon, making good on his grandfather’s prediction from a few days ago. As the ball rolled slowly into the hole, the younger Nicklaus threw his arms into the air and then ran to bear hug his grandfather, who wasn’t ashamed to say he shed a few tears.

“No. 1,” the six-time Masters champion said when asked where this ranks in a long list of charmed moments at Augusta National. “What I did doesn’t make any difference to me. But watching your grandson do something, it’s really special.”

The teenager is the son of Gary, the fourth of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus’ five children.

“We talked about three days ago and I said, do you want to hit the ball on 9? And he said, sure,” Jack Nicklaus said. “And I said, ‘Well, I think you’re going to make a hole‑in‑one.’ That’s what I told him three days ago. And he said, ‘OK.’

“He’s never made a hole‑in‑one, it’s his first hole-in-one. It’s pretty special.”

The whole afternoon was.

Watching Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer play the Par-3 was always one of the highlights of the week. Palmer died two years ago and Tom Watson has since taken his spot. Fans would be happy simply to watch them stroll around the course, but the three still have some thrills in their bag.

Watson, who is 68, won the Par-3 at 6-under. Nicklaus, 78, was two strokes back while Player, at 82, shot 2-under.

“It’s the Watson of old,” joked Watson, who won two of his eight major championships at Augusta National.

“The Watson of old and the old Watson,” responded Nicklaus.

But it was a youngster who stole the show.

“You always want the best for your kids and your grandkids, and to watch the grandkid come along and knock in a hole‑in‑one on the biggest venue in the world … wow,” Jack Nicklaus said. “I mean, what a day. What a fantastic ending.”

A Nicklaus with a fabulous finish at Augusta National, imagine that.

This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

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