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Former golf writer McCollister dies

Tom McCollister, a longtime sports writer with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was killed Monday in a two-car accident. He was 61.

He was an avid golfer who covered the PGA Tour for many years. His writings included a book, Golf in Georgia.

McCollister played a somewhat inadvertant role in Jack Nicklaus' win at the Masters in 1986. McCollister, at the time the golf writer for The Journal, wrote a story suggesting Nicklaus had little chance to win.

"Sometimes when you're trying to do an advance on The Masters and you can't talk to anyone down there, you're just sort of desperate," McCollister recalled in 1996. "Like a lot of people, I decided to do a chart, take the newcomers, foreigners, everybody, and put them in a category and put a comment on each one of them, what their chances are.

"I got to Jack and I just thought, he hadn't played well all that year, or the year before. So I just wrote that he's done, he's gone, his clubs are rusty. It was just a big paragraph, really.

Well, Jack's friend, John Montgomery, was in Atlanta that week, and he picked up the Sunday paper and read that. He went to Augusta and pasted it up on the refrigerator in the house Jack was staying in, because as he said, he knew Jack would be going to the refrigerator often."

Nicklaus went on to win the tournament, and credited the McCollister article for providing some extra incentive during that week.