Nantz turns back the clock with 1960 Masters

April 4, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Not to spoil it for those watching the Masters on Sunday, but the winner already has been determined.

Arnold Palmer.

That’s partially true, thanks to modern technology and the determination of CBS Sports anchor Jim Nantz.

Nantz dug out of the Augusta National vaults the telecast of the 1960 Masters, which Palmer won with birdies on the final two holes to beat Ken Venturi. He then worked with Legend Films to restore color to the black-and-white picture, a job that required more than 10,000 man hours to colorize more than 60,000 frames.

It will be shown on CBS an hour before the final round of the 2007 Masters.

“No one had ever seen the broadcast, only the highlight film,” Nantz said earlier this year when he showed a preview of the colorized broadcast. “I wanted people to get lost in the moment again.”

The Masters was televised in 1960 using kinescope, in which the live broadcast was recorded on film by focusing the film camera on a TV set screen. It also wasn’t a long show, picking up the leaders on the 15th hole.

Nantz spearheaded research to get some of the colors right, from the pink sweater worn by a 20-year-old amateur (Jack Nicklaus), to the gray sweater and navy blue shirt worn by Palmer.

The style of broadcasting in that era is fascinating, and at one point announcer Jim McKay (with a crewcut, by the way) worries that his voice causes Palmer to back off a putt. One of the commercials was two men talking under the oak tree by the clubhouse.

Some other points of interest — the candy-cane striped pins, and the rule at the time that the pin could be left in the cup while putting from the green, which adds drama to Palmer’s long birdie putt on the 16th that rattled off the pin.

Perhaps the most peculiar scene is Palmer on the 18th. While waiting for Billy Casper to finish, Palmer sits down on the edge of the green. Then he holes the 6-foot birdie for the win and — before leaping, throwing a visor, anything — he retrieves the ball from the cup.

The show is called “Jim Nantz Remembers Augusta: The 1960 Masters,” and it has been reduced from the 76-minute broadcast to 46 minutes, allowing time for conversation between Nantz and Palmer.

Palmer had never seen the broadcast until December.

There also is the live interview in the Butler Cabin with club founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Jones does the talking, and that rich drawl comes alive when he offers condolences to Ken Venturi, telling him he ran into a “lionhearted effort” by Palmer.

“I’m so happy people are going to be able to see that,” Palmer said.

Arnie and Gary: Arnold Palmer stopped playing the Masters after his record 50th appearance in 2004.

He’s still competitive as ever.

Palmer’s record probably won’t last much longer. Gary Player is playing his 50th this year, and plans to return next year to break the record. That didn’t sit well with the King.

“If he isn’t embarrassed, I won’t be embarrassed for him,” Palmer said.

Once the laughter subsided, Palmer continued.

“He just wants to do one better, and that’s fine,” Palmer said. “I’m for him. But he can’t touch my record. He hasn’t even come close to it. You don’t know why, though, do you? He missed a year. So that’s the end of that.”

Player had surgery in 1973 and missed five months that season, including the Masters.

Someone mentioned that Player, 71, was in pretty good shape, doing 1,000 crunches five days a week. Who knows? This is his 34th straight Masters, and the wee South African could go another 16 years. After all, Player said he wants to live to be 100.

“If you can’t win, it doesn’t matter,” Palmer said.

No, the gloves weren’t ready to come off. Once the laughter died, he added, “Hey, he’s my friend and I love him. I can also have fun with him, too.”

Club Selection: Phil Mickelson will be using two drivers again at the Masters.

He broke from conventional wisdom last year, going with one driver that allowed him to fade the ball better, another for a draw and extra distance. The joke was his caddie, Jim Mackay, had to mark the covers of each driver to know which was which. That won’t be the case this year, because one of them will be the square-faced Callaway driver.

“When I need distance, I use the square one,” Mickelson said. “And when I try to hit little low shows or work it around the trees on 10 or 13, I’ll use the regular-shaped driver.”

Mickelson doesn’t agree with the longheld belief that right-to-left works better at the Masters, saying there are certain holes where the left-to-right is the way to go.

“Augusta National tests all your abilities for ball-striking, your ability to hit the ball high, as well as hit the ball low; the ability to hit fades, draws, high, left-to-right, right to left,” he said. “I don’t feel as though you can get around this golf course just hitting one shot.”

He also will have a 64-degree wedge, replacing a conventional sand wedge. The extra driver will replace his 3-wood, a club Mickelson says he doesn’t use at Augusta National. The only time he might need it is on the par-5 eighth, and he prefers driver off the deck.

Praise for Ernie: Ernie Els felt a kick in the stomach when Phil Mickelson made birdie on the final hole in 2004 for a one-shot victory in the Masters. It was the second time Els has been runner-up at Augusta National, a trend he hopes to reverse.

Asked if it would be a major gap in his resume to end his career without a green jacket, he replied, “Absolutely, totally.”

“I’ve had 13 chances at it. I haven’t done it quite yet, and I’d love to do it,” he said. “And if I don’t do it … yeah, definitely would be a bit of a downer.”

But his hopes were buoyed not only by his play, but comments from Gary Player, his idol and practice partner on Tuesday.

“I hit it good this morning, and he just walked up 17 today and was like, ‘You know, this is the best I’ve ever seen you play. This should be your best chance ever.’ So, nice words from him,” Els said.

Say Ah: Not everything about Masters week is enjoyable.

Padraig Harrington had to spend part of his Monday at a local dentist’s office after chipping one of his teeth. The dentist removed one of the Irishman’s fillings, cleaned it and put it back in.

The whole trip took about 90 minutes, Harrington said.

“You know, we do have to go to the dentist,” he said. “We’re not that good. We may be able to hit a little white golf ball, but it does not preclude us from going to see our dentist and things like that.”