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Golf legend Nicklaus joins Costner for first round at The Cliffs

In what is believed to be a first in the history of professional golf, a course’s grand opening coincides with the hosting of a pro tournament.

And in that same making history theme, an opening-day lineup that included 18 holes with Jack Nicklaus and Kevin Costner was unprecedented as well.

Playing together for the first time, the golfing legend and the Hollywood celebrity best known for his sports movies paired up Wednesday for the first official round of play at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove.

The Nicklaus design, a near flawless layout on a piece of land perfect for 18 holes just 12 miles from downtown Asheville, was unveiled for about 700 invited guests on the eve of the Nationwide Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs.

After a morning news conference and clinic on the driving range by Nicklaus, the world’s greatest golfer and the actor played a leisurely 3 1/2-hour round in wind, sunshine and a brief rain shower.

Both wore microphones and bantered easily with each other and the audience while playing from the tips on the par-71 that covers 7,278 yards.

After drilling a mid-iron out of the rough to 15 feet on the par-4 4th hole, Costner was upstaged when Nicklaus chipped in for birdie from 15 feet, just off the green.

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