Nicklaus May Not Be Done in US


OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Tournament sponsors might have spoken too soon when they said this week's Champions Tour stop would be the last tournament Jack Nicklaus plays on American soil. The Golden Bear made it clear Thursday that maybe - maybe - this weekend's Bayer Advantage Classic will not mark his exit.
'I finished tournament golf basically last week,' Nicklaus said Thursday, a day before the start of play in the Bayer Advantage Classic.
Last week, the 65-year-old Nicklaus played in the Memorial in Ohio in what might have been his last PGA Tour start in the United States.
'I said I reserved the right to play fathers-and-sons and one-day events, and I consider this a father-son. I always have the right to go back to (the Memorial) if I want to and I may do that someday.
'I may go back some time because I'd really like to have my last round somewhere, probably at (the Memorial). I could have said that last week, I suppose.'
Nicklaus has been saying the British Open at St. Andrews this summer would be his final competitive event. He said Thursday the main reason to join old friend Tom Watson at this week's Champions Tour stop was a chance to play in the Pro-Am with son Steve.
'I'm here really to play with him,' Nicklaus said. 'I suppose there's another tournament besides that, too, isn't there, one I'm competing in? The (pro-am) is why I'm here. While I'm here, we'll see what I can do to play well in the other part of it.'
Last week in the Memorial, he missed the cut by six strokes.
'Frankly, I haven't had a golf game in quite a while, what I would call a golf game,' he said. 'I can still go out and shoot 75 usually. My scoring average this year in the two tournaments I've played in is 76.25. That's not too good, is it? That's about what I've been shooting.
'In many ways, it's a chore for me to go play.'
Nicklaus and Watson will play together in the first two rounds Friday and Saturday. Their presence will considerably swell the size of the crowd at the par-72 Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate, which will play at a lengthy - especially for seniors - 7,192 yards.
'I basically stopped playing tournament golf for all intents and purposes in 2000,' Nicklaus said. 'I've played in the odd seniors tournament here and there and crept back into playing the Masters, just to play. I've always kept playing the Memorial Tournament. As host of the tournament you sort of feel like you should play. But then I don't want to clutter up the field.'
Nicklaus and his son are staying with Watson, whose home is not far away.
Coming to Kansas City was Steve's idea, Nicklaus said.
'I said, `Steve, they've invited us to play as a father-son team in Kansas City. Would you like to go play?'' Nicklaus said. 'And he said, `Yeah, sure, I'd love to go play.' So that's why we're here.'
Another reason to join the field is the fact he designed the layout himself. With Nicklaus and Watson grabbing the headlines, this year's field is probably the strongest the Kansas City event has had. Also on hand are Jim Colbert, Hale Irwin, Craig Stadler and defending champion Allen Doyle.
'It's not a very easy golf course. Particularly if the wind blows,' Nicklaus said. 'It's a strong golf course. At least I thought it was.'
A violent storm hit the area Wednesday night, downing trees on Watson's farm nearby and destroying the media tent at the golf course. Lost were computers, copy machines, desks, tables and media packets.
Tournament officials were scrambling Wednesday to set up makeshift facilities.
The storm hit just as Nicklaus' plane was arriving.
'We were looking at ground most of the time. We were 30 minutes of really bouncing,' he said. 'That's the worst flight I've ever been on. I've been on a lot. I don't think it was the most dangerous, but it was the worst. The leather on the seats are probably scratched a little bit.
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