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Coveted Masters golf green jacket nets nearly $700,000 in auction

(Reuters) - A green jacket owned by the winner of the nation's first Masters Tournament in 1934 has sold at auction for nearly $700,000, the auction company said on Monday.

The jacket, awarded to Golf Hall of Famer Horton Smith some 13 years after he won the first Masters in 1934, was sold by New Jersey-based Green Jacket Auctions to an undisclosed bidder for $682,229.45 in an online auction on Sunday.

It was the highest price ever for a piece of golf memorabilia, according to Green Jacket Auctions.

Awarded every year since 1949, the green jacket has become a symbol of one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, which began in Georgia as the Augusta National Invitational Tournament.

Smith's two-button, single-breasted green jacket, size 43 long, was coveted by collectors for decades and was thought to be lost - until a family member who had the jacket realized its value and called Green Jacket in July to report that it had been with family since Smith's death in 1963.

Smith, who won the tournament in both 1934 and 1936, played in every Masters Tournament until the year he died at age 55.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Greg McCune and Leslie Adler)

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