Grieving Nicklaus Likely to Skip Masters
Now, the Masters is the last thing on his mind.
'I think with what's happened to us in our family, my time is going to be spent in much different ways,' Nicklaus said Monday, his first public comments since his 17-month-old grandson drowned in a hot tub. 'That's the most important thing right now. And I think it will be the most important thing for a long time.'
Nicklaus said his chances of playing the Masters are 'between slim and none,' although he plans to be at Augusta National for the Champions Dinner, maybe even the Par 3 Tournament.
He still would like to play the British Open at St. Andrews in July since this is his last year of eligibility and because his son, Steve, wants to caddie for him.
It was Steve Nicklaus' son, Jake, who drowned Tuesday night.
Nicklaus sat before a small gathering Monday morning at The Loxahatchee Club, not as the steely-eyed winner of 18 major championships, but as a teary-eyed grandfather who had lost one of his 17 grandchildren.
He declined to cancel the appearance, saying it was the right thing to do.
'Life has got to move on. Life is for the living,' Nicklaus said. 'It hurts, but you go on. You make commitments, and you've got to do them.'
But he remains so shaken that he left a statement on each chair that expressed his grief and appreciation about the love and support, hopeful it would limit the questions during a one-hour interview.
His voice cracked only once, when he mentioned that Steve's wife, Krista, is 3 1/2 months pregnant and probably will have the baby shortly after the British Open.
'Obviously, that little baby she has inside her is very important,' Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus is perhaps the greatest champion golf has known, winning a record 18 majors over 25 seasons. But he has always taken more pride in his family.
There are the famous stories of how he fainted when his wife, Barbara, gave birth to each of their five children. There was that memorable photo of him scooping up 4-year-old Gary after a round at the 1973 PGA Championship. Gary Nicklaus later played two years on the PGA Tour.
And when Nicklaus had his left hip replaced in 1999 - causing him to miss the Masters for the first time - he said it was to improve his quality of life so he could remain active with his grandchildren, not to help him play another major.
'As you can imagine, the last few days have been an overwhelmingly difficult and trying time for my entire family,' Nicklaus said in his statement. 'The loss of our precious, 17-month-old grandson Jake was devastating, and it is a loss that is impossible to put into words.'
Nicklaus had an easier time talking about his future in golf.
'I have absolutely zero plans as it relates to the game of golf,' he said.
He plans to play Tuesday in a charity event hosted by Gary Player, because Nicklaus is upholding his commitments. He also has an outing Monday at Lost Tree near his home in North Palm Beach.
And he won't entirely rule out playing in the Masters, although he called his chances less than 20 percent.
'If I feel like I can get Steve out and spend some time with him on the golf course, get myself in shape ... I'm not going to close the door on it until it's time to get there,' Nicklaus said. 'But I can't imagine my mind is going to be on preparing to play golf.
'I'll go to Augusta this year,' he said. 'I'll probably go out and play a round on Tuesday, and I may play the Par 3 on Wednesday. And if I can play, if I think I should play the golf tournament, I'll probably play the golf tournament. If I don't think I should, I'll play Tuesday and Wednesday, and that will be it.'
If he doesn't play, it would be only the third time since he first played in 1959. After the hip replacement surgery in 1999, he missed 2002 because of lingering back problems.
Nicklaus has not played the British Open since 2000 at St. Andrews. Past champions are eligible through age 65, and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club moved up St. Andrews in the rotation to give the Golden Bear one last chance to play on his favorite links.
Having his son on the bag will help.
'I would think I'll play the British Open no matter what,' he said. 'Steve is caddying for me, so I'll share that with him either way.'
But that's still four months away, and Nicklaus is trying to get through each day right now. There was a visitation Friday, the funeral service Saturday. There are commitments he doesn't want to break because, as Nicklaus said, life goes on. But his focus is far from the fairways.
'I'm going to spend my time with Steve and Krista,' he said. 'I think that's probably more important than golf.'
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.
Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.
"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."
Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.
"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.
"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18