1966 Masters – A Successful Defense

Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia

Prior to 1966, no Masters champion had ever successfully defended his title. But Jack Nicklaus had set as his goal doing just that – and as history has shown, that determination became a virtual force of nature.

In 1966, Augusta National played unusually hard and fast, owing to a cold, dry winter – and perhaps some strategic decisions in course set-up by Masters Tournament officials. Nicklaus opened with a 68 to take a three-stroke lead but skied to a 76 on Friday. Remarkably, Ben Hogan shot a 71 and was just two behind the leaders, Peter Butler of England and Paul Harney. An even-par third round (despite a 38 on the inward nine) gave Nicklaus a share of the lead with Tommy Jacobs. Hogan and Arnold Palmer were two back. An even-par 72 on Sunday put him into a tie with Jacobs and Gay Brewer, and Nicklaus won the Monday playoff with a 70 to Jacobs’ 72 and Brewer’s 78. The even-par finish 288 in regulation was 17 shots higher than the Golden Bear’s winning score a year prior.

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