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 (see: The 8 Greatest Masters Ever Played). 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 Nicklaus74-71-69-65--279$144,000
Tom Kite70-74-68-68--280$70,400
Greg Norman70-72-68-70--280$70,400
Seve Ballesteros71-68-72-70--281$38,400
Nick Price79-69-63-71--282$32,000
Jay Haas76-69-71-67--283$27,800
Tom Watson70-74-68-71--283$27,800
Tommy Nakajima70-71-71-72--284$23,200
Payne Stewart75-71-69-69--284$23,200
Bob Tway70-73-71-70--284$23,200
Donnie Hammond73-71-67-74--285$16,960
Sandy Lyle76-70-68-71--285$16,960
Mark McCumber76-67-71-71--285$16,960
Corey Pavin71-72-71-71--285$16,960
Calvin Peete75-71-69-70--285$16,960
Dave Barr70-77-71-68--286$12,000
Ben Crenshaw71-71-74-70--286$12,000
Gary Koch69-74-71-72--286$12,000
Bernhard Langer74-68-69-75--286$12,000
Larry Mize75-74-72-65--286$12,000
Curtis Strange73-74-68-72--287$9,300
Fuzzy Zoeller73-73-69-72--287$9,300
T.C. Chen69-73-75-71--288$8,000
Roger Maltbie71-75-69-73--288$8,000
Bill Glasson72-74-72-71--289$6,533
Peter Jacobsen75-73-68-73--289$6,533
Scott Simpson76-72-67-74--289$6,533
Dave Edwards71-71-72-76--290$5,666
David Graham76-72-74-68--290$5,666
Johnny Miller74-70-77-69--290$5,666
Fred Couples72-77-70-72--291$4,875
Bruce Lietzke78-70-68-75--291$4,875
Dan Pohl76-70-72-73--291$4,875
Lanny Wadkins78-71-73-69--291$4,875
Wayne Levi73-76-67-76--292$4,300
Rick Fehr75-74-69-75--293$3,850
Hubert Green71-75-73-74--293$3,850
Larry Nelson73-73-71-76--293$3,850
a-Sam Randolph75-73-72-73--293  
Tony Sills76-73-73-71--293$3,850
Don Pooley77-72-73-72--294$3,400
Bill Kratzert68-72-76-79--295$3,200
John Mahaffey79-69-72-75--295$3,200
Ken Green68-78-74-76--296$3,000
Phil Blackmar76-73-73-76--298$2,700
Jim Thorpe74-74-73-77--298$2,700
Lee Trevino76-73-73-77--299$2,500
Mark O'Meara74-73-81-73--301$2,300