Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Say It Ain't So Jack

Jack Nicklaus by PGA Tour.comSo as part of my duties at work, I had to write a report about Jack Nicklaus and what could be his last tournament, fittingly at the home of golf, Saint Andrews, Scotland.

I have always been a fan of "the Golden Bear" and will be sad to see him go. But Jack isn't giving up so easily -- he still thinks he could win this thing.

I have memories of Jack from what used to be called The World Open, a tournament played in my home town of Pinehurst until it was canceled back in the 1970s. I actually put on my best shoes, dress pants and a sweater to follow Jack around the course one year. I got blisters on my feet, but I can say I saw the Golden Bear live.

He ended regulation tied with Billy Caspar after four rounds. I remember the sun was setting over Pinehurst No. 2 when they started the first playoff hole. My brother and I thought we would get a jump on the crowd because Nicklaus had parred his first playoff hole and Caspar had a three footer to force another hole.

As we trotted towards the second green, we heard a roar come up from behind us, and realized that Caspar had missed the putt and Nicklaus had won the tournament. We didn't get to see the finish, but I did get to see the Bear.

That was 30 years ago, and now he's 65 and has had hip replacement surgery and probably won't make the cut this week. But he had class. I got the chance to see his portrait in the World Golf Hall of Fame when it was at Pinehurst. There was the Bear, smiling, wearing one of his six Green Jackets from the Masters and holding a trophy.

Now Jack says he wants to enjoy playing with his grandchildren and not having the pressure of having to prepare for a golf tournament every week. I think he's earned it. He has provided some great memories for all of us.

I remember some of the duels he had in majors with Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. And I'll never forget that autumn afternoon on No. 2 with Billy Caspar.

1 comment:

Christopher Trottier said...

Right on. I've always considered Jack to be the Babe Ruth of golf.