The two got together with Tiger Woods for a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club yesterday, and the old men were impressed with the youngster.
"Arnold and I both agree that you could take his Masters [championships] and my Masters and add them up, and this kid should win more than that," Nicklaus said.
"This kid is the most fundamentally sound golfer that I've ever seen at almost any age. He's got great composure. Hits the ball 9 million miles without a swing that looks like he's trying to do that.
"I don't know whether he's ready to win or not, but he will be your favorite for the next 20 years. If he isn't, there's something wrong."
The biggest applause at the end of Amen Corner, the par-5 No. 13, came when Palmer hit a wedge within a foot for birdie. Nicklaus, however, said the inside talk was all about Woods, the two-time U.S. Amateur champion who's hitting it farther than John Daly.
"Arnold and I were laughing," Nicklaus said after their tee shots on the 485-yard dogleg left. "I drove around a corner and, to get it back to the pin, I needed a 2-iron. He [Tiger] did not hit his best tee shot, at least 40 or 45 yards behind me. He took out an iron. Arnold said he's laying up, and I said no he's not."
Woods' 3-iron went through the green.
Quite a pair
Woods was to play with defending champion Ben Crenshaw in today's first round. The other top pairings include Daly and Nick Faldo, Davis Love III and Colin Montgomerie, Lee Janzen and Nick Price, and Fuzzy Zoeller and Greg Norman, everybody's favorite.
The field of 93 includes 19 first-time starters, including Jim Furyk, a native of Lancaster, Pa., who is in today's last pairing.
If there's a frost delay today like there was yesterday, there's a possibility Furyk could finish the first round in twilight.
Furyk began this year's flurry of first-time champions when he won the Hawaiian Open. Tim Herron, Paul Goydos, Scott McCarron and Paul Stankowski, who won the BellSouth Classic in a playoff Easter Sunday, got here on the basis of their first PGA Tour victories.
Scratch Jay Haas from the list of potential champions. He won the par-3 contest on the second hole of a playoff with Larry Mize, and no par-3 winner has gone on to win the Masters. The event included a record four holes-in-one, by Haas on No. 2, Ian Baker-Finch and England's Mark Roe on No. 7, and Sandy Lyle on No. 9.
Pub Date: 4/11/96