It is 50 years since Jack Nicklaus won the first of his six Masters titles, but the 18-time Major winner will have a major influence on how rookie Nicolas Colsaerts performs this week.
Colsaerts is one of 17 debutants at Augusta National, where no player making their maiden appearance has won the coveted Green Jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
But the big-hitting Colsaerts, one of the heroes of Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph at Medinah last year, could not have received better advice on how to join Zoeller in the record books after stumbling into an opportunity to pick Nicklaus’ brains last week.
“That was actually very special because we were in the clubhouse (at West Palm in Florida) and I’m chatting away with two members and Jack Jnr comes in, who caddied for his dad in 1986,” Colsaerts said.
“We were talking about the 1986 Masters of course (when Nicklaus won his last Masters title at the age of 46) and one of the members we were with asked Jack Jnr 'what would be your best advice for your first Masters?’ And he stood still for maybe ten seconds and came out with a very clever quote of ’I would just talk to Dad’.
“So he looked at me, asked me if he wants me to call him and I’m like, ’Yeah, if that’s a possibility it would be awesome’. He called him up and he had a meeting at three o’clock but said he could be here at two o’clock. That was at one o’clock in the afternoon so having a chance to meet Jack Nicklaus in an hour, I felt pretty lucky.”
Colsaerts, who also spoke to two-time champion and his Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazábal yesterday, spent an hour with Nicklaus and went through every hole on the course.
“When I spoke to Jack I felt like I had the place pretty well screened for somebody that’s never played here,” the 30 year old added.
“So if you add some of the useful information he’s given me, it’s actually given me quite a confidence boost that I had the right eyes on certain parts of the golf course. Certain players come here and look at this place and feel like they have the game that suits it, and I definitely think that I do.
“Experience is always going to play a big role and any tournament you win you’re going to have to hole some putts, but I like my chances.”