Only Jack Should Decide

By George WhiteJuly 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
Will he, or wont he? That is the question most of us want to know, although in the final analysis there is absolutely no need for an answer.
Jack Nicklaus plays the British Open one final time, and people are all atwitter trying to decide if it will be the last time we will see the golfing icon in a tournament. There are plenty of reasons to believe it ' Jack himself seems to have said so during a recent promotional visit to Britain; after all, he IS 65 now; and the days are long gone when he was even a remote threat to win.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus remains a favorite of fans from all generations.
People have compared it to Willie Mays playing one final year at 43 in a New York Mets uniform, Michael Jordan missing a slam dunk while playing at age 40 for the Washington Wizards, Muhammad Ali losing to Trevor Bobick while shuffling out one final time at 39.
But there is a world of difference. Its not one-on-one in golf ' theres no pitcher blowing one right by your flailing bat, no one standing there about to swat back your jumper, no young pug pounding your head into a bloody mess. Its you, the golf course ' and the fans. And the fans dont care if Jack Nicklaus is 65. No one cares if a good day for him is a round of 75.
That, though, doesnt account for the man himself. Nicklaus insists he doesnt want to just stick around and whack a golf ball, walking around the course in the adulation of thousands. If someone pays to see Jack Nicklaus, he says, they should get to see Jack Nicklaus.
This is the man who gently poked fun at Arnold Palmer for sticking around forever when most his age had already left the party and locked the door. Jack sees how hard it is now. He is battling an awfully strong urge to keep playing. The sane man says stop now, you will never win again. The insane man says, please, give it one more shot ' you never know when you will discover something that unleashes the young Jack one more time.
Millions of golf fans are urging, even insisting, that he stay. Nicklaus, though, is fighting what to him has always been the ultimate insult ' being nothing but a ceremonial golfer, as he calls it.
I don't really pay much attention to the ceremonial part until it becomes ceremonial, until I no longer become a competitive golfer, he says.
Sure, it will have its moments for me, but it's really hard to understand. I don't understand sometimes what goes around in my head. But my head says, Hey, I can play this golf course, and I'm going to go play. And that to me is not ceremonial. So as long as my head stays that way, then I'm not worried about the other part of it at this point.
Hmmm does it sound like twiddle-dee or twiddle-dum? How about this: I love playing golf. Don't get me wrong, because I do and there's nothing I've enjoyed more in my life than playing golf and being competitive and being part of what's going on.

Hooray! If youve never seen Nicklaus play, maybe there is still hope!
But then he douses it with:
When you're not part of the competitive part of it, it loses its glow. And I haven't been part of the competitive part of it for several years now, realistically.
And to try and somewhat have to keep a golf game in shape - because I'm going to play The Masters next year or play in the British Open next year, or I'm going to play half a dozen senior tournaments or whatever I'm going to do - isn't a lot of fun. Because you know that you're not playing very well, you don't have any desire to work at it, you know you don't have a game that is going to be what you want. So the glow just sort of falls away from it.
Hes started to thoroughly enjoy having the whole Nicklaus clan over for dinner on Sunday. He thoroughly enjoys taking off on a whim and fishing in Alaska, in Australia, somewhere in the Rockies. He has a golf course design business to occupy his time, too. And practice is painful for him ' his back, his hip, his shoulder. So why do it?
Why, indeed, he questions?
Over the last couple of years I've started to spend more time doing other things and just say the heck with golf for a couple of months, I'm going to go do something else, he said. I frankly really enjoyed that.
If I could still play golf and could get organized and could go play, I'd certainly do that. I've tried a little bit over the last few years to do that, but I know my golf game isn't the same. My body doesn't like it.

Then, he lets a little sliver of light in on his persona, the persona that used to be totally a golfer.
I go home and I have a hard time filling a little bit of the void at home because when I'm at home before, I go to the office, I do my things I'm doing at home. But I always used to always go to the golf course, too, and get myself ready for the next time I play. And I go home now, I'm not getting myself ready for the next time I play, and what am I going to do today? I've got a little bit of that.

No one who has not been there will ever know how difficult it is to retire from the thing you love. Jack Nicklaus loves his family, he loves his fishing, he loves his business, he loves just puttering around. But there is one other thing ' he truly, dearly, loves golf.
For 45 years, he has been Jack Nicklaus. And he cant let go. And, come to think of it, why should he paint himself into a corner with no way out?
If Jack wants to play, has even the slightest inkling anytime in the future that he can play ' he should play! He has earned that many times over.
Email your thoughts to George White
Related Links:
  • Scorecard - Jack Nicklaus
  • Full Coverage - British Open
  • Getty Images

    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    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."

    Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    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.

    “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

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    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.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    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.

    Masters victory

    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

    Departure from TaylorMade

    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

    Victory at Valderrama

    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm