1986 Masters: Nicklaus' Final Charge

1986 Masters Tournament
David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images

The 1986 Masters is considered by many golf fans one of the best - perhaps the greatest - Masters of all-time. And that's because of one man: Jack Nicklaus.

In 1986, Nicklaus was 46 years old. He hadn't won a major in six years. He hadn't won a PGA Tour event in two years. Nicklaus' career was considered over. And then he won the 1986 Masters.

And it turned out to be Nicklaus' final major and final PGA Tour victory. But what a way to close out that chapter of his golf career.

How the 1986 Masters Played Out

Nicklaus put himself into the mix with a third-round 69. He opened the final round five strokes off the lead and wasn't really the focus of much attention as the final round began. But Nicklaus started receiving some attention when he went birdie-birdie-birdie on holes 9, 10 and 11.

He birdied the 13th. Then hit the green on the par-5 15th in two, and rolled in the 12-foot eagle putt to get within two strokes of the lead.

Nicklaus followed that with a birdie on the par-3 16th with a tee ball that just missed hitting the cup as it spun back. A famous story about Nicklaus' No. 16 tee ball: After Nicklaus struck the tee shot, he immediately bent down to pick up his tee, without watching his ball. His son and caddie, Jackie, said to the ball, "Be right!" Nicklaus said back to Jackie, "It is," and winked.

Nicklaus birdied again on the 17th, then parred the 18th. That finished a back nine of 30 - tying the Augusta record (since bettered) - and a round of 65, and put Nicklaus in the clubhouse with the lead at 9-under. The golfers Nicklaus began the day pursuing were now pursuing him.

But Seve Ballesteros' hopes ended when he hit into the water on the 15th. Tom Kite was in a position to tie or surpass Nicklaus, but missed on three straight birdie putts. Greg Norman did catch Nicklaus at 9-under with four consecutive birdies. But needing a birdie on the last to win, or a par to force a playoff, Norman pushed his approach to the 18th green well right, chipped up to the green, and missed the par putt to drop out of the tie.

Just like that, Jack Nicklaus was the 1986 Masters champion. For those who watched Nicklaus' last and most famous charge, the sights and sounds - thunderous cheers all over the back nine - will never be forgotten. It was Nicklaus' sixth Masters championship, his 18th professional major championship, his 73rd PGA Tour victory. And his last of each.

Overlooked in the Nicklaus hoopla was the fact that in the third round, Nick Price became the first golfer to shoot 63 at Augusta.

1986 Masters Scores

Results from the 1986 Masters golf tournament played at the par-72 Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. (a-amateur):

Jack Nicklaus 74-71-69-65--279 $144,000
Tom Kite 70-74-68-68--280 $70,400
Greg Norman 70-72-68-70--280 $70,400
Seve Ballesteros 71-68-72-70--281 $38,400
Nick Price 79-69-63-71--282 $32,000
Jay Haas 76-69-71-67--283 $27,800
Tom Watson 70-74-68-71--283 $27,800
Tommy Nakajima 70-71-71-72--284 $23,200
Payne Stewart 75-71-69-69--284 $23,200
Bob Tway 70-73-71-70--284 $23,200
Donnie Hammond 73-71-67-74--285 $16,960
Sandy Lyle 76-70-68-71--285 $16,960
Mark McCumber 76-67-71-71--285 $16,960
Corey Pavin 71-72-71-71--285 $16,960
Calvin Peete 75-71-69-70--285 $16,960
Dave Barr 70-77-71-68--286 $12,000
Ben Crenshaw 71-71-74-70--286 $12,000
Gary Koch 69-74-71-72--286 $12,000
Bernhard Langer 74-68-69-75--286 $12,000
Larry Mize 75-74-72-65--286 $12,000
Curtis Strange 73-74-68-72--287 $9,300
Fuzzy Zoeller 73-73-69-72--287 $9,300
T.C. Chen 69-73-75-71--288 $8,000
Roger Maltbie 71-75-69-73--288 $8,000
Bill Glasson 72-74-72-71--289 $6,533
Peter Jacobsen 75-73-68-73--289 $6,533
Scott Simpson 76-72-67-74--289 $6,533
Dave Edwards 71-71-72-76--290 $5,666
David Graham 76-72-74-68--290 $5,666
Johnny Miller 74-70-77-69--290 $5,666
Fred Couples 72-77-70-72--291 $4,875
Bruce Lietzke 78-70-68-75--291 $4,875
Dan Pohl 76-70-72-73--291 $4,875
Lanny Wadkins 78-71-73-69--291 $4,875
Wayne Levi 73-76-67-76--292 $4,300
Rick Fehr 75-74-69-75--293 $3,850
Hubert Green 71-75-73-74--293 $3,850
Larry Nelson 73-73-71-76--293 $3,850
a-Sam Randolph 75-73-72-73--293
Tony Sills 76-73-73-71--293 $3,850
Don Pooley 77-72-73-72--294 $3,400
Bill Kratzert 68-72-76-79--295 $3,200
John Mahaffey 79-69-72-75--295 $3,200
Ken Green 68-78-74-76--296 $3,000
Phil Blackmar 76-73-73-76--298 $2,700
Jim Thorpe 74-74-73-77--298 $2,700
Lee Trevino 76-73-73-77--299 $2,500
Mark O'Meara 74-73-81-73--301 $2,300