Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen have played a total of 824 rounds of golf at Augusta National.

None of them ever shot 63.

Nobody ever did, until Nick Price of South Africa set a course record today.

It took 50 Masters for somebody to shoot 9 under par here. When it finally happened, the deed was done by a man who bogeyed the first hole, who didn't hit a single par-5 in two shots or make an eagle and who rimmed out a 30-foot birdie putt at the 18th for what was nearly a 62.

Price will have to accomplish much to write his name larger in golf history than he did this afternoon in only his fifth Masters round. Price, 28, whose only victory in the United States was the 1983 World Series of Golf, had 10 birdies in a span of 15 holes.

A native of South Africa, raised in Rhodesia, carrying a British passport and applying for U.S. residence, Price prefers to be called "a Zimbabwean." Born in Durban, now a resident of Randburg, South Africa, Price could best describe his mailing address as Planet Earth.

Since he first watched the Masters on TV at age 11, he has dreamed of such a day. And since he won the Junior World in San Diego at age 17, he has known he was meant to be a career golfer.

The six who had shot 64 here were Lloyd Mangrum, Miller Barber, Nicklaus, Maurice Bembridge, Hale Irwin and Gary Player. Now, only Price is right.

On a windless, overcast, mild day with soft greens, Price threw every shot straight at the flag, and "except for my first drive and my last drive, hit every shot right where I aimed it. . . . I hit my irons well, and I never missed a putt. That was about as good as I could do."

Never in his life, not even in a practice round on an easy course, had Price ever shot lower than 63. Yet he took to the challenge admirably.

After birdieing the entire Amen Corner -- 10, 11, 12 and 13 -- Price told his caddie, David McNeilly: "We'll make two birdies and get the record."

"I knew I had a really good chance of breaking it," said Price, whose downhill, sidehill, left-to-right four-footer at the 15th was the crucial tough shot. His high, soft 5-iron shot at the 16th landed in the middle of the green, then snatched left and trickled down a hill to the brink of the cup, just as Price planned it.

His record-breaker was a tap-in.

The clutch shot for Price, who has finished 103rd, 66th and 80th on the PGA Tour money list the past three years, was his second at the 18th after a wild hook off the tee. He faced a 194-yard 4-iron shot from light rough directly over a gaping trap with the pin tucked squarely behind it.

"I didn't want to back off. I wanted to prove something to myself. If I hadn't been aggressive, it would have showed I was bleeding."

Price has bled before. He led the 1982 British Open by three shots on the final nine holes, but lost. And he contended, then faded in the PGA last season.

On Thursday, Price shot 79 and feared he'd miss the cut. After a 69 on Friday, he breathed easier. Now he is one shot out of the lead heading into the last round. "Every step I took on the back nine, someone was giving me encouragement," he said. "It's a dream."