| 15.8°C Dublin

Golden Bear in his element recalling how he mastered Augusta National

It was 5pm and the 11th interview of the day after the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and defending champion Bubba Watson had been asked their thoughts on the 77th Masters.

But the room was still packed as Jack Nicklaus held court for 45 minutes at Augusta National, talking with authority, humour and humility on everything from women members to 14-year-old Chinese prodigies.

For the record he is in favour of both and happy to impart advice to the latter, but unsurprisingly it was on the subject of his six Masters victories that Nicklaus was most fascinating, especially on the 50th anniversary of his first win in 1963.

"I came here in 1959 and played pretty well," Nicklaus recalled.

"I remember I hit 31 greens in regulation and missed the cut. And I saw that Arnold (Palmer) hit 19 greens and he was leading the tournament. Art Wall was two shots in front of me and he won the tournament.

"I learned a couple of things. First, they needed a 10-shot rule, which is what they did (anyone within 10 shots of the leader makes the halfway cut). I was 10 shots behind Arnold at the time. And also, I figured out I'd better learn how to putt these greens.

"I didn't play very well the first day and shot 74, came back with 66 and then we had the rain day. Nobody thought we would finish the third round but when we got to the 18th green, that's when I looked at the leaderboard.

"I'm colour blind but I saw several ones on the board and I asked my caddie Willie Peterson 'How many of those ones are red (under par)?' And he said 'Just you boss.' That's when I found out I was leading the tournament."

Nicklaus went on to win by a single shot from Tony Lema.

Irish Independent