He nearly got choked up telling that story Tuesday because of what the words meant.
Some 35 years earlier, when his father was dying of cancer and was being wheeled into an operating room, Charlie Nicklaus waved at his family and said the same words.
Nicklaus spent some 10 minutes talking about the relationship he had with his father, who died in 1970 during his longest drought in the majors in the prime of his career. It was relevant because Tiger Woods is skipping the Memorial for the first time in his career, still coping with the death of his father on May 3.
Everybody reacts differently to different things, Nicklaus said. It would be a pure guess on my part what his reaction would be.
Nicklaus said he tried to reach Woods, who wasnt taking calls. He talked to Woods wife and left a message that if you want to call me, fine; if you dont, its fine. You know what my thoughts are.
Nicklaus had gone 10 majors without winning when his father died Feb. 19, 1970. He said he had been playing sloppy golf, not putting in enough practice or getting the most out of his ability. He said the death of his father caused him to rededicate himself to dominance.
He lived for what I did, Nicklaus said. I think that was his greatest thrill and pleasure. And I think I let him down. He would have kicked me in the rear end.
Then he paused and smiled as he considered Woods.
You cant say he needs to be kicked in the rear end, Nicklaus said.
RETURN OF THE KING?
Two weeks after Arnold Palmer withdrew from the Senior PGA Championship, the King submitted his entry for the U.S. Senior Open, to be played July 6-9 at Prairie Dunes in Kansas.
It would be his first official event of the year.
My golf has certainly not been up to par of late, Palmer, 76, said on his web site. Hopefully, by the time I get to Kansas, my game will be much better.
Palmer won the 1981 U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills and has played in all 24 championships that followed. His last competitive appearance was in the Champions Skins Game in Hawaii. He last played a Champions Tour event in Houston last October.
Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman easily stayed inside the top 50 in the world ranking this week, making him one of 13 players who earned exemptions to the U.S. Open through various criteria.
Lehman was No. 47 and among six players who had to rely on their top-50 ranking to get a tee time at Winged Foot, the smallest number in the last six years. The others were Darren Clarke, Rod Pampling, Trevor Immelman, Robert Allenby and Zach Johnson.
Paul Casey, Rory Sabbatini and Geoff Ogilvy are exempt through the world ranking and various money lists on their tours.
Carl Pettersson slipped out of the top 50 by a fraction of a point and will have to qualify on Monday unless he wins the Memorial. Pettersson won in Tampa Bay last year, and the U.S. Open exempts anyone with two PGA Tour victories through this week.
Lee Westwood of England, who had been No. 52, missed the cut at the BMW Championship at Wentworth and slipped to No. 55. He had said he would not go through the U.S. Open qualifier in England because he was playing the Memorial, although his status became unclear when he withdrew from the Memorial.
Monday also was a deadline for the British Open, and Brett Wetterich will be making his debut in golfs oldest championship. Wetterich won the Byron Nelson Championship earlier this month and is 17th on the PGA Tour money list. The British Open takes the top three players not otherwise eligible who are among the top 20 on the money list after the St. Jude Classic.
Arnold Palmer is taking over his golf course design, changing the name to Arnold Palmer Design Company and moving headquarters in Florida from Ponte Vedra Beach to Orlando.
The move will allow Palmer to be more active in his roles as president and chairman of the company that has been around 35 years and has nearly 300 courses either open or being built in 38 states and 23 countries. Among his courses is The K Club in Ireland, which will host the Ryder Cup in September.
Another reason for the changes is the illness of Ed Seay, with whom Palmer founded the company in 1971. Seay no longer is fully active, but will stay involved as a personal counselor to Palmer.
Since my golf has not been up to the standards I have always set for myself, I have not been playing in tour events this year, Palmer said. So that gives me the time to be more in charge of the company and personally get more involved in the designing. This is something that I have wanted to do for many years. With the company right at my club in Orlando, I can be hands-on much more of the time.
Evian Masters on the LPGA Tour has raised its purse to $3 million because of the favorable exchange rate with the euro. That makes it the second-richest purse in womens golf, behind only the U.S Womens Open at $3.1 million. ... The Canadian PGA has canceled its PGA Championship because two sponsors pulled out. It was co-sanctioned as a Nationwide Tour event the last five years. ... The LPGA tournament in Orlando, Fla., sponsored by Ginn Clubs & Resorts will be held next year April 12-15, the week after the Masters and going up against the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, one of the more popular stops on the PGA TOUR. ... It will be easier getting to Pinehurst this summer by air. Delta Air Lines has added nonstop flights between Atlanta and Pinehurst six times a week starting June 22.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jay Haas has made 589 cuts on the PGA TOUR, one short of the record held by Tom Kite. Haas, who has won three straight Champions Tour events, is playing this week at the Memorial.
We can always find excuses. Were golfers.' Bart Bryant, who has started slowly after knee surgery at the end of last year.
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