On Thursday morning, beneath a pearl blue sky, two old friends met on the dewy first tee of Augusta National. Arnold Palmer reached into his golf bag and grabbed driver.
"Put on your ear muffs," Palmer said, predicting a loud collision of titanium and urethane. His tee shot settled on the right side of the fairway.
"How did you do that?" Jack Nicklaus shot back, sticking his tee into the ground and hitting his own driver a little farther and a little more to the right.
And so began the 74th Masters, with Nicklaus joining Palmer as an honorary starter, bringing together a pair that has combined for 10 green jackets. Gary Player, a three-time winner, will likely join Palmer and Nicklaus in this ceremonial job in the future.
Nicklaus guessed that he and Palmer had played 300 to 400 rounds together, between practice and tournament rounds, but on Thursday the men hit their tee shots and ceded the stage to the younger set.
"I'm going fishing tomorrow in the Bahamas," Nicklaus said. "I don't even think I'll have a TV. I'll be on the water all day." Special Sections: Jack Nicklaus | Arnold Palmer Photo: Palmer and Nicklaus with Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne. (John Biever/SI)