Nick Price shot the first 63 in Masters history in 1986, but the quote he gave after his birdie attempt on No. 18 lipped out is arguably more well-known. “I think Bobby Jones’ hand came up and popped it out the hole,” Price mused. “And said, ‘That’s enough.'”
Turns out, it may have been Price’s caddie who kept him from firing the first 62 in major championship history.
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Dave McNeilly was on the bag for Price that year and he recently told quite the tale involving that legendary third round. Let’s just say the score is even more legendary considering the state of the longtime looper, who went out hard the night before to celebrate his boss making the cut.
“But I actually overdid it,” McNeilly says. “And I was way, way too drunk when I showed up on Saturday.”
Unfortunately for Price, this cost him right away when McNeilly gave him a bad number for his approach on No. 1. Price flew the green, wound up in a bush, took a penalty drop and saved bogey. On the following hole, McNeilly says the Hall of Famer told him he could “smell the drink” on him and relieved him of the yardage book.
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After that, Price caught fire. And with the course record in his sights, he turned back to his trusted caddie for help on a layup yardage on the par-5 15th. As McNeilly tells it, he told Price he had 275 yards to the water and encouraged him to hit a hard 5-wood. Price obliged and was stunned when his ball wound up 12 feet from the hole instead of short of the water. Whoops!
Price two-putted for birdie, then stuck his tee shot to two feet on No. 16 for another birdie before two closing pars gave him the tournament record. But the capper on this incredible story is that McNeilly, after giving his player more bad advice before the approach on 18 that was fortunately ignored, blames himself for jinxing the final putt. “Worst day of my life.” Have a listen to the entire thing:
Your boss making Masters history and yet you remember it as the worst day of your life? That must have been one heckuva hangover.
Anyway, Price opened that week with 79, but after a Friday 69 snuck into the weekend (Hence, the cause for celebration from McNeilly). Then he fired the 63 to move within one shot of 54-hole leader Greg Norman, a man who shot the only other Masters 63 a decade later and with whom he was paired in Sunday’s final group.
Of course, no one remembers much of all that because of what happened in that final round in 1986 (HINT: JACK). But Price had a wild and memorable performance himself that week. One that we now know was even wilder than previously thought.
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Originally Appeared on Golf Digest