PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – For his first round of golf since becoming a Super Bowl champion, Drew Brees wore a slightly mismatched outfit.
Blue pullover with a Golden Bear logo. And a beige Purdue cap.
Jack Nicklaus – remember, the Golden Bear is an Ohio State man – noticed.
“Brees had a great year this year,” Nicklaus said, “even if he was a Purdue guy.”
With plenty of barbs like that expected to go his way over the 18-hole jaunt, Brees played in a Pro-Am on Wednesday before the Honda Classic with Nicklaus, Dan Marino and saxophonist Kenny G – a trip that brought the New Orleans quarterback back to South Florida about a month after leading the Saints over the Indianapolis Colts for the Super Bowl title.
Brees, who can play to a 3 handicap, said it was the first time he’d gotten on the course since June, and acknowledged that he was nervous to play alongside the 18-time major winner.
“I have a signed Masters flag in my office with his signature on it,” said Brees, who wanted to pick Nicklaus’ brain about course design and other golf-related topics. “Obviously, you know what he’s meant for the game of golf. Just to have the opportunity to not only meet him but then play with him, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The weeks since the 31-17 win over the Colts have largely felt the same way.
Calling the whirlwind that’s followed “nuts and mayhem,” Brees peeled off some of the highlights of his still-going victory tour: A parade at Disney … television chats with Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and David Letterman … Mardi Gras parade … Super Bowl parade … team celebrations … the list goes on and on.
And the latest Super perk came Wednesday: Golf with Nicklaus.
“He’s been able to revolutionize the sport,” Brees said. “He was one of the guys who made golf popular, made it, I guess, what it is today. To play for the length of time that he’s played and the number of championships that he’s won, major championships especially, you just have to sit back and say ‘Wow.’ That’s so difficult to do.”
Nicklaus said he found that humbling, and added that his game – while lauding Marino and Kenny G, both of whom he played with previously – was no longer “for public consumption.”
Wednesday was the first time Brees and Nicklaus played together, and Nicklaus saw a silver lining in Brees winning a Super Bowl.
“He was a Big Ten guy,” Nicklaus said. “So that’s good.”
Brees said he intends to take maybe up to another month off to rest and recover, before starting to gear up for the 2010 season and hopes of a Saints repeat.
More golf, he vowed, will get played before football takes priority again.
“I think it’s important to take time away and kind of recharge your battery both physically and mentally, emotionally, because that was quite a ride,” Brees said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s slowed down at all here over the last three weeks, but I’m certainly going to take some time with my family and just relax and try to get away and not think about football for a while. Play some golf.”