Honorary Starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson Kickoff 87th Masters

With 11 Masters wins and 140 appearances between them spanning six decades, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson walked up to the first tee as this year’s Honorary Starters to a standing ovation at Augusta National on Thursday morning to officially start the 87th version of the Masters Tournament.

First up of the Honorary Starters was Gary Player, the first international winner of this prestigious event. He donned his usual all-black attire and hit a sold strike off the tee. Player boasts three green jackets, winning at Augusta National in 1961, 1974, and 1978.

Next up was Nicklaus, an Honorary Starter of this tournament since 2010. The Golden Bear holds the Masters’ record with six victories and this year marks the 60th anniversary of his first win in Augusta. After his tee shot, the 83-year-old held up his arms triumphantly to the roar of the crowd.

In just his second appearance to kick off the Masters, two-time winner Watson was the final legend to tee off. His presence was in question leading up to the tournament after shoulder surgery from a go-kart accident threatened to keep the 73-year-old on the sidelines. “That’s not the normal hand I tee it up with. You don’t ride go-karts at my age—yeah, you do” Watson said as he stepped up to the tee.

With that final shot, Chairman Fred Ridley declared the 87th Masters Tournament officially underway. It should be a good one so check back here for updates and news as it unfolds.

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A proud alumna of the UGA Grady College of Journalism, Jennifer Eakins has been working in the sports industry for well over a decade with bylines at 4for4 Fantasy Football, Yahoo, NBC Sports and Sports Illustrated. Her first fantasy football draft took place in 1996 where she selected Ricky Watters with the first overall pick, and she has been a fantasy degenerate ever since.

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