"The home of hometown heroes"

It's Really Been 30 Years Since Golden Bear Charge

By Mike Hastings

Publisher




There are certain moments in life that you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.  September 11th, the Kennedy assassination, the first lunar landing.

For me it’s April 13th, 1986. I was sitting in the grille room at Moreno Valley Ranch Golf Club, having just completed a round a golf.  My friends and I were settled in to watch the final round of the Masters.

All the top players were in contention: Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Price, Tom Kite, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart were all close to the lead.  Everyone was taking bets on who would pull it out. For me there was only one choice: the Golden Bear.

Everyone thought I was crazy.  In most professions, 46 is considered prime years, but in golf, in 1986, you were considered ancient.

Jack Nicklaus was the most dominant golfer of his time, winning a record 17 majors.  But he hadn’t won one in six years, and he hadn’t won a green jacket in 11 years.

He shot 71 and 74 to make it to the  weekend, a feat many considered tremendous for his age.  When he shot 69 on Saturday, Greg Norman was ahead of him by four shots.

After the first eight holes, it looked like the experts were right, Nicklaus was well back, having made one birdie and one bogey.

What happened next is what legends are made of.  The Golden Bear made a slippery putt for birdie on nine, then again on ten.  When he drained a long putt for another birdie on 11, people started to wonder - could it be!

When he bogied 12, the answer was I guess not.  But then he birdied 13, made par on 14, then eagled 15.

I don’t know about his, but my heart was racing when he stood on the tee at the par 3 16th.  All he did was hit a laser to within a few feet for birdie.   He followed that with another birdie on 17 and par on 18. He finished with a 65, including a 30 on the back.

I believe it was one of the greatest moments in sports history.  For me, it showed what greatness looked like and I will never forget it.