Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer was remembered and paid tribute on the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday when long-time friends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player started the 2017 tournament with their customary tee shots.
Masters chairman Billy Payne made special mention of Palmer in his pre-shot remarks, leaving a chair on the first tee for Palmer, who was an honorary starter from 2007-15. In 2016, Palmer was unable to hit a tee shot due to failing health, and he sat on the first tee in a chair similar to the one left Thursday morning.
Palmer’s green jacket was draped over the chair as Palmer’s widow Kathleen Gawthrop was given a round of respectful applause as she was seated before the tee shots.
Then Player and Nicklaus stepped up in succession to hit their tee shots.
Going second, Nicklaus took off his cap and motioned toward the sky in honor of his friend, Mr. Palmer, before ripping a tee shot.
Although there was no official measurement of their length, Player declared them a “tie” again — though Nicklaus did seem to take a tip from Rory McIlroy in hitting an impressive first ball with a Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic driver.
With the tee shots, the Masters officially was underway, with the first tee time at 8 a.m.