The 2013 Masters is underway, and as is tradition, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player led things off bright and early Thursday morning on the first tee. The honorary starters opening the tournament is another one of those traditions that distinguishes the Masters, and that everyone looks forward to each year.
Jock Hutchinson and Fred McLeod started the tradition in 1963, and since then, legends such as Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, and Sam Snead have held the status of honorary starter. Palmer started the ceremony back up in 2007, and opened things solo for a time before Jack joined in 2010. The tournament committee then added Player last year.
While Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player are not the original trio to serve as honorary starters, but they reiterate their love for the ceremony each year, showing up to play in the par-3 contest on Wednesday and then attempting to knock one up the fairway on Thursday. But as Nicklaus reminded the media this week, he doesn't much care where it goes after he makes contact:
Jack on his ceremonial tee shot: "The only nerves you have is to make solid contact. It doesn't matter diddly-darn where it goes."— Sam Weinman (@samweinman) April 11, 2013
Nicklaus also said the group warmed up a little this morning before strolling to the first tee, but that a nine-minute wait caused the seniors to stiffen up. There you have it, it's early Thursday and we already got jokes and a "diddly-darn" from the greatest player ever.
Settle in for a nice little Thursday at Augusta National.