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Nicklaus's Masters caddie dies

Willie Peterson, who caddied for Jack Nicklaus during five of his six Masters Tournament championships, is dead of lung cancer.

Peterson died at his home in New York City on Saturday, according to his daughter, Vanessa Peterson-Fox of Augusta. He was 66.

"Willie caddied for me at Augusta for many years and did a great job," Nicklaus said Monday. "I enjoyed Willie. He was a great character."

Peterson's five victories are tied for the most in tournament history with Willie "Pappy" Stokes, who carried winning bags in 1938 (Henry Picard), 1948 (Claude Harmon), 1951 and 1953 (Ben Hogan) and 1956 (Jack Burke Jr.). Nathaniel "Ironman" Avery won four times, all with Arnold Palmer.

Peterson started as a caddy in the Masters as a 16-year-old in 1949, but never caddied for the same golfer for more than one year until he picked up Nicklaus in 1959 when the Golden Bear was an amateur rookie.

Their relationship continued with Nicklaus' victories in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972 and 1975, and Peterson was his caddie through 1982. Jack Nicklaus II, Nicklaus' oldest son, caddied in the 1986 Masters. Before 1983, Augusta National caddies were required at the tournament.

Plans for the funeral are incomplete, but his daughter says it likely will be this weekend in Augusta.

TRW