'I would like to have shot under par here, yes,' he said after finishing four rounds at Muirfield Village Golf Club in 7-over 295. 'If I play again, then it won't make much difference. But if I don't play again, I've shot under par in the last tournament round I've played.'
Nicklaus has won more than 100 tournaments around the world, and realizes it is highly unlikely he will ever win again. He has undergone hip replacement, has trouble with an injured back and says he no longer has the time to prepare for tournaments because of the time he enjoys spending with his family and with his many business interests.
Nicklaus, with 18 major championships, has always played to win. Now that goal has been taken out of the equation.
'It was a good round for me. I'm quite pleased to shoot 71 on this golf course, where the pins were today in the last round of this golf tournament,' he said under a shady tree just a sand wedge away from the 18th green. 'All that means is that I'm really happy with 71 and any of these guys who are in the lead will be absolutely chewing nails if they shot 71, right? So obviously I'm not competitive.
'That's why it's time to hang up your spikes.'
Few believe that Nicklaus is done, however. Anyone able to make a cut at the age of 64 remains competitive - particularly if he picks his spots and plays courses he likes and is familiar with.
St. Andrew's will host the 2005 British Open, largely because Nicklaus had indicated an interest in playing at one of his favorite courses. Officials moved St. Andrew's up a year in the Open rotation to accommodate the man who won the tournament there in 1970 and 1978.
Craig Parry, who was Nicklaus' playing partner on Sunday at the Memorial, believes Nicklaus will play again. Nicklaus has indicated that if he does continue to enter tournaments, he will most likely play the Memorial. He designed the layout at Muirfield Village, founded the Memorial Tournament and has won it twice.
'He knows the golf course very well and he knows where all the trouble is as well,' Parry said. 'It is a course he's played well on in the past and one he knows how to play.'
Parry said Nicklaus remains a factor in competitive golf.
'He's still a hell of a golfer and he wants to go out on top,' Parry said.
Even though Nicklaus doesn't promise anything - he'll take a wait-and-see attitude on his competitive future - he continues to appreciate a challenge.
The ageless Sam Snead was making cuts on the tour when he was 67.
With a laugh, Nicklaus said, 'Well, I'll be back when I'm 68 then.'
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