Jack Nicklaus himself, though, may not be a competitor much longer. He played then withdrew last week in the Senior PGA Championship. He plays The Memorial this week, as he has since its inception in 1976. He talks like he might play one more British Open when that tournament returns to St. Andrews next year. But beyond that, he has absolutely no plans to play competitively.
Well ' maybe The Memorial.
Jack is seriously considering wrapping up his career at age 64.
This will probably be my last week of playing what I consider tournament golf,' Nicklaus said at a news conference at the tournament.
'I look at the game and I say, 'Do I want to play golf?' Yeah, I love to play golf. 'Do I love to play competitive golf?' Sure, there's nothing I like doing better, nothing I like more. But I don't think I'm competitive anymore.
'I said I'd play as long as I'm competitive and as long as I enjoy it. And I think they sort of go hand in hand. I don't enjoy preparing for a golf tournament. I don't enjoy preparing my game and concentrating on doing that, and obviously there's no excuse for not being prepared.'
Nicklaus sounds more and more like he is serious. The Memorial is played at Muirfield Village, a course Nicklaus designed, near Columbus, Ohio, where Nicklaus was raised.
And it may well be where Nicklaus wraps up his regular playing career.
'I may pick out Augusta next year to play,' he said. 'I'll probably play Memorial here again sometime. I might play next year. I might go play 2005 at St. Andrews, but I might not. I don't know what I'm going to do.
'After this week I'm going to concentrate on fishing and I'm not going to concentrate on another golf tournament. If I decide I want to go play one, I'll go play one, but I'll just have fun with it. I'm not going to spend my time preparing to play golf. '
Nicklaus has found plenty of other interests to occupy his time besides golf. There are other things in other places that he wants to explore. But Mother Nature has largely robbed him of the fit body needed to compete. And age has robbed him of the desire to play tournamemnt golf. But it has given him far greater things.
'I enjoy my golf course design, I think I'm far better at that than I am at playing right now,' said Nicklaus. 'I enjoy the competition - of all the places I want to go and a lot of the work I'm doing. I've got a lot of great streams and flats and so forth to finish (in fishing), and frankly I can do that better than I can play golf right now. And I enjoy it and I don't have to worry about preparing for it because that's not my livelihood or something.
'I haven't spent very much time with my grandkids. I'm home watching baseball games and stuff like that, but I haven't spent time with them. I've played golf all my life. I don't need to play golf anymore. Not that I don't enjoy it, I love it, but it's just I've had enough.'
Kenny Perry is the defending champion at The Memorial. He caused quite a stir last year when he won the week before at the Bank of America Colonial, then won here the very next week.
I kinda made a pact with myself, said Perry. Every time I've won in my career, the next week I've played very poorly, celebrating too much.
I don't know what it was, but I made a deal with myself that I wanted to be competitive at the Memorial. I never thought I was gonna win, but I wanted to get back in that mold, and get that energy I had and try to get out there and see what I could do. The next thing I know, I shoot 32 on the front nine on Sunday at the Memorial, and I've got a five-stroke lead with nine to play again.
So it was a pretty incredible two weeks for me, knowing that you're playing against the best in the world and you've got an eight-stroke lead (at Colonial) and a five-stroke lead (at Memorial.) It's something that you don't hear of much.
You know, Tiger had those stretches where he was winning by 15 or 12 strokes, but usually it's a playoff or you win by one or two out here. It was just a magical two weeks.