Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer Open The 2010 Masters

April 8th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

Together they have over 90 Masters appearances and 10 green jackets.  As the sun rose on a misty Thursday morning at Augusta National Golf Club, the two former champions were the honorary starters for the opening ceremony at the 2010 Masters.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus wowed Augusta crowds for decades, and with their opening tee shots on the first hole, the Masters officially began.

“He dominated the Masters like no one before or since,” remarked Masters chairman Billy Payne. “Please join me in welcoming back, Mr. Jack Nicklaus.”

Nicklaus won six Masters tournaments in his career, and holds the all-time record.  He played his last competitive round at Augusta National Golf Club in 2005, but made his return for the first time this year to be an honorary starter.

“I hit a rookie tee shot,” Nicklaus said jokingly. “I didn’t put my contacts in, so I had no idea where it went. As long as I didn’t hear it land, it’s OK.”

The opening ceremony and honorary starters began back in 1963, and has been a beloved tradition with golf fans ever since.  That year, Nicklaus earned his first masters victory, with five more to come.

Nicklaus had his reservations over the last few years about being an honorary starter, wanting Palmer to have his moment, but thought this was the right year to do it.

“I’ve never been up this early at Augusta,” Nicklaus joked.

After the tee shots, Nicklaus said that he would make his way to the Bahamas, for a week of fishing.

“I don’t think I’ll have a television set,” Nicklaus remarked. “I’ll be out in the water all day. We have a set on the boat, but whether we’ll pick it up at night, watch the replays … we’ll probably do that.”

Coverage of the 2010 Masters begins at 4pm on ESPN, with what some believe will be the most watched tournament in history, as Tiger Woods begins his round at 1:42pm Est, playing alongside Matt Kuchar and K.J Choi.

Woods is competing for the first time since November when he won the Australian Masters.

“The fact that I haven’t really played at all, that’s a little bit concerning,” Woods remarked. “I’m hoping I get my feel back quickly, my feel for the game, my feel for shots, feel more how my body is reacting and what my distances are going to be. I hope I get that back, you know, relatively quickly. Maybe, hopefully, the first hole. But if not, please hope it’s the second hole.”

Before Nicklaus left, someone asked him of how he believes Woods will perform this week.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“He’s a pretty good player,” Nicklaus said. “I would think he’ll play pretty well.”

Woods has been set as the betting favorite to win the 2010 Masters, going off currently at 5/1.

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