Paramus, N.J. Senior golf got just what it needed Thursday, the return of the Big Three. For at least a day, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were again on the center stage in the world of golf.
The 71-year-old Palmer shot his age, Nicklaus, 61, matched his best round of the year in relation to par with a 4-under 68 and the 65-year-old Player had a 70 as the trio stole all the attention in the first round of the Senior PGA Championship.
You almost had to feel sorry for Jim Thorpe, who was hardly noticed in grabbing the lead with six birdies in a 67 on the tree-lined Ridgewood Country Club.
Nicklaus, Bob Gilder and Larry Nelson were a shot behind on the 6,904-yard course and one ahead of Hale Irwin, Jim Colbert and Doug Johnson. Player and defending champion Doug Tewell, who eagled the par-4 14th with a 6-iron from 167 yards, were in a group three shots back and one ahead of the pack led by Palmer.
"That's great! Fantastic," veteran Joe Inman said of the return of the Big Three, who had their own television show in the 1960s when they dominated the regular tour.