Nicklaus, who played an emotional final round at the British Open this month, was honored Tuesday night at Moraine Country Club in this Dayton suburb.
Breaking into tears at times, Nicklaus tossed his prepared speech and talked mostly about how he would miss playing with his fellow golfers, especially Arnold Palmer, part of the group who honored the Golden Bear.
I may have had to fight his gallery, but I never had to fight him, said Nicklaus.
Tom Watson also was in attendance. Nicklaus said he has great respect for the man who beat him in the British Open at Turnberry in 1977.
They walked the fairways together at St. Andrews a couple of weeks ago when Nicklaus played in his final major.
We were playing a practice round and we walked up on the Swilcan Bridge and hes got more tears in his eyes than I have, Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus won a record 18 major professional titles. He won the Masters six times and the U.S. Open four times. He was the champion at the British Open three times and holds five PGA Championships.
Nicklaus said he was not going to miss the game because he cant play the way he wants to any more. But he is going to miss the fun.
Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Andy Bean, Bruce Fleisher, Andy North, Jerry Pate and Don Pooley were some of the other golfers paying tribute to Nicklaus.
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