1977 Masters Winner and Scores: Watson Holds Off Nicklaus

Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus engaged in two duels at majors in 1977, most famously at the British Open. But first they duelled here, at the 1977 Masters, the 41st time The Masters was played. Watson came out on top in both cases, leading to many golf historians pointing to this event where the Nicklaus Era of golf was overtaken by Watson's era.

Winner: Tom Watson, 276

Where it was played: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia

Tournament dates: April 7-10, 1977

Leader after first round: Hubert Green, 67

Leader after second round: Tom Watson and Rod Funseth, 139

Leader after third round: Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw, 209

What Happened in the 1977 Masters Tournament

Looking back, we can see that Tom Watson was the best player in golf by 1977. At the time, though, that view of Watson wasn't yet cemented. The 1977 Masters is where it started to take hold. Watson was a major champion by this time, but had faltered down the stretch in more majors than he had won coming into this tournament.

Here, though, Watson was three ahead of Jack Nicklaus going into the final round. Nicklaus, playing one group in front of Watson in the final round, threw a 66 at him. But Watson answered with his own 67.

It was all-even late in the round. With Nicklaus in the fairway on No. 18, Watson stood on the 17th green tied with Nicklaus for the lead. Watson had a 20-footer for birdie, and when he rolled it in the loud crowd roar made Nicklaus hesitate on his approach to the 18th green. Now down by one, Nicklaus needed to birdie the final hole, and tried a more aggressive shot. He mishit it, put the approach into a bunker, and made bogey.

Watson parred out on No. 18 and claimed the first of his two Green Jackets by two strokes. It was the second of Watson's eight career majors. A few months later, Watson and Nicklaus engaged in their most-famous duel, at the 1977 British Open. There Watson and Nicklaus played the final two rounds together, Watson shooting 66-65, Nicklaus 66-66, Watson winning by one. Nicklaus finished runner-up to Watson at four different majors. The 1977 Masters was the first of those.

Ben Crenshaw was the co-leader with Watson after 54 holes. But Crenshaw, who later won two Masters titles, struggled to a final-round 76. Billy Casper, 1970 Masters winner, tied for 14th place in what was his final Top 20 finish in a major.

1977 Masters Final Scores

Tom Watson 70-69-70-67—276
Jack Nicklaus 72-70-70-66—278
Tom Kite 70-73-70-67—280
Rik Massengale 70-73-67-70—280
Hale Irwin 70-74-70-68—282
David Graham 75-67-73-69—284
Lou Graham 75-71-69-69—284
Ben Crenshaw 71-69-69-76—285
Raymond Floyd 71-72-71-71—285
Hubert Green 67-74-72-72—285
Don January 69-76-71-69—285
Gene Littler 71-72-73-69—285
John Schlee 75-73-69-68—285
Billy Casper 72-72-73-69—286
Jim Colbert 72-71-69-74—286
Rod Funseth 72-67-74-73—286
Jerry Pate 70-72-74-70—286
Tom Weiskopf 73-71-71-71—286
George Archer 74-74-69-70—287
Andy Bean 74-70-71-72—287
Danny Edwards 72-74-68-73—287
Lee Elder 76-68-72-71—287
Gary Player 71-70-72-74—287
Billy Kratzert 69-71-78-70—288
Andy North 74-74-71-69—288
Arnold Palmer 76-71-71-70—288
Bob Wynn 75-73-70-70—288
Isao Aoki 73-76-70-70—289
Bruce Lietzke 73-71-72-73—289
Jerry McGee 73-73-72-71—289
Graham Marsh 77-72-72-69—290
Bob Murphy 74-72-71-73—290
Seve Ballesteros 74-75-70-72—291
Mark Hayes 71-72-72-76—291
Tommy Aaron 73-72-73-74—292
Johnny Miller 78-71-69-74—292
B. Shearer 74-67-75-76—292
Art Wall Jr. 75-74-71-72—292
Dave Hill 71-72-76-74—293
J.C. Snead 72-76-73-72—293
Dave Stockton 73-72-75-73—293
Bud Allin 71-74-75-74—294
Bruce Devlin 75-69-77-73—294
Gary Koch 78-71-72-73—294
Mac McLendon 72-70-78-75—295
Lyn Lott 76-72-77-71—296
Peter Oosterhuis 73-75-76-72—296
Mike Morley 75-73-73-76—297
a-Bill Sander 80-69-78-72—299
a-John Fought 73-74-78-78—303

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