Veteran caddie Dave McNeilly’s worst day of his career came during a record performance at a legendary venue.
“I can remember it only too well,” McNeilly said. “It was the day Nick Price shot 63 at Augusta (National) in 1986.”
McNeilly recently recounted the story for The Tour Caddies account on Twitter, detailing a celebration gone awry. McNeilly was on the bag for Price, and he opted to celebrate the Friday night after the Zimbabwean shot a 69 to make the cut.
“I actually overdid it, and I was way, way too drunk when I arrived on Saturday,” McNeilly said. “Walking to the second tee, [Price] turns around to me and says, ‘David, I can smell the drink off you. Give [me] the yardage book.'”
Price was basically his own caddie for much of the round from there, going on a birdie tear that vaulted him into contention. On the 15th hole Price told McNeilly to “stop sulking” and gave him the yardage book back, only for McNeilly to give him a bad number the first chance he had. Asked for a layup distance in front of the water, McNeilly told his player to hit a 5-wood that ended up on the green instead of in front of the pond. It set up an easy two-putt birdie.
“He gets to the 16th hole, the place is going mental,” McNeilly recalled. “Looks at me straight in the eye and goes, ‘David, the course record is on.’ I looked him straight back in the eye and said, ‘Nick, sober up, because I think I’m starting to.'”
No one had ever shot a 63 at Augusta National at that point, and Price actually had a chance to go even lower. His 25-foot birdie putt on the final green lipped out, a result that McNeilly wryly attributed to his overt rooting once the ball got close to the hole.
“I go, ‘I’m gonna get involved. I’m gonna get involved.’ And I say, ‘Go in,'” McNeilly said. “Horseshoes all the way back. Nick Price now running around the green, putter up in the air, looking up at the gods going, ‘He opened his mouth.’ Worst day of my life.”
The 63 still served as a new course record at ANGC, one that wouldn’t be tied for a decade and which still stands today. Price went on to finish fifth in the 1986 Masters, three shots behind Jack Nicklaus.