Masters 2019: The best of Jack and Gary

Jack And Gary

Between them, they have 162 years, 27 major victories, and 314 major appearances.

So, when Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player speak, it’s always worth pinning back your ears and listening. 

This morning, after hitting the ceremonial first tee shots at The Masters, the two greats sat down with the media for almost an hour, covering a whole host of bases. 

The full transcript of the interview runs to over 11,000 words but we’ve picked through it to dig out the best nuggets, funnies and pearls of wisdom dispensed by the iconic duo. 

Enjoy…

On their Green Jackets

Jack: “This one here is 20 years old, at least.”
Gary: “Looks like it, too.”

On Jack/Tiger comparisons

Gary: “How can you compare Tiger Woods to Jack Nicklaus? It's not fair. Let [Jack] play today with these greens and raked bunkers or bunkers all the same width, and with a driver and a ball that goes 50 yards further. This man finished second in nineteen major championships. Nineteen!  This is what people forget when they want to make a comparison.”

• "Everything's so artificial" - Gary Player hits out at modern golf

On the career grand slam

Jack: "I never thought anything about grand slam. When I won the British Open in '66, I don't even recall anybody even mentioning it. It wasn't until probably ten years later, and we were I think at Westchester, and somebody said, "Oh, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan and Gary Player and you have won all the four majors; can we have a picture of the four of you together? You're the four that won the Grand Slam." We were like, "Okay." That was it.”

On what it takes to be a 'superstar'

Gary: "I think you've got to win six majors to be a superstar."
Jack: "I think you've got to win ten." [Gary has nine]

• Nicklaus expects controversial Masters rule to change

On the modern game

Gary: “I see guys taking weeks off with a $1.5 million first prize. Me, would I have just played every damn week as much as I could.”

On green-reading materials

Gary: “If you can't read a green, you should be selling beans.”

On being a member of Augusta National

Jack: “It was a very nice honour to be asked. I paid my initiation. I pay my dues. There’s only one negative. Because people that know I'm a member, I get a lot of calls, "Jack, would you take me to Augusta?"  

• Which former rival does Rory miss on tour?

On fan behaviour

Jack: “I don't think I've ever had a distraction from the gallery that ever affected what happened in the tournament. Zero.”

On security concerns

Jack: “I've had on several occasions where I've had the police stay with me. I had one place I was at one time, the officer was leaving, he gave me his gun for the night. He says, "Here, you might need this tonight." I left and went to another hotel.”

• Brandel Chamblee rips into Brooks Koepka

On breaching Masters etiquette

Gary: “After winning the first time, I leave and I go home to South Africa with the jacket.  Three days later, I get this call, "Gary, this is [Augusta National co-founder] Clifford Roberts here. I believe, Gary, you've taken the jacket home to South Africa." I said, "I did, Mr Roberts." He said, "Nobody ever takes the jacket off these grounds whatsoever." So I thought very quickly and said, "Mr. Roberts, if you want it, come and fetch it."

On being friends as well as rivals

Gary: “I stayed at Jack’s house one year during the PGA and it was a very unpleasant stay because we were tied going into the last round. At breakfast, Barbara [Nicklaus] is giving scrambled eggs, and I'm thinking, "Hell, man." She put my eggs in front of and I quickly put them on Jack's plate and took Jack's for mine, just in case she put something in the damn eggs!”

• Augusta National chairman reluctant to alter 'sacred' 13th

On their approach to golf

Jack: “I wanted to make sure I enjoyed it. I just stopped, took a big breath and looked around me and said, look at how much fun these people are having.  That's what it's all about. That's why I'm here. Put your mind to it, go have fun, go work at it but have fun with it, enjoy it, because that's what you work for.”

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