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, owning 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.