One facet of the game has given him fits. Scoring, he said, and in case you think hes being a little facetious, he repeated it.
I mean it ' that may sound like a short, quick answer. Its not ' thats exactly whats giving me trouble. Its been giving me trouble all year.
I feel I hit the ball reasonably well. And I play reasonable shots. I dont feel like my putting is that terrible. (But) I dont put it all together. I just dont score.
His name is one of the most famous in golf. His answers are some of the most learned in the game. What he does is always newsworthy. And yet the first thing he said was, Why you want to talk to me, I dont know. But here I am.
Actually, Nicklaus loves to chat. He converses on a wide range of subjects when pressed. But his play the last nine or 10 years has been a disappointment ' to him. Disappointing to the degree that he just doesnt want to play.
Coming to the golf course yesterday with Barbara (his wife), I said, You know, I dont really want to play. And if you dont want to play, you are not going to play well, said Nicklaus.
Oh, I shouldnt say dont want to play. I want to play. I want to play well. I dont feel comfortable with what Im doing. I didnt feel comfortable about really being out there.
When I get excited and want to be there is when I play well. And I dont know where its out of frustration of not playing very well, and I actually have put quite a bit of work in it this year.
Nicklaus is usually accused of playing too seldom on the Champions Tour. He has a flourishing course design business, and admittedly he has lost much of his desire for golf after a regular-tour career which included 18 major championships and 73 victories. Various injuries, including a hip replacement, have been a factor, but the most he has played on the elder circuit has been seven tournaments. Such paltry play doesnt lead to good scoring.
But he is playing considerably more this year. He has played five times on the Champions Tour ' not counting this one, four times on the regular tour, and even once on the Nationwide Tour where he played with his sons.
Im going to play in about 15, said Nicklaus. I havent played in 15 tournaments in about 10 years. Im going to play a lot this year. If you started to add it up, by the time I finish up through The Tradition, I will play in 15 or 16 events.
And yet, he says he hasnt been as active as he would like to be.
I havent been able to play as much as I like to, he said. I have been able to practice and practice a lot more. I havent been getting anything out of it.
And, you know, I know that the one thing I cant practice a lot is chipping, because I cant bend over and stay there because thats where I really get hurt. And I know on a golf course like this, youve got to chip and youve got to be right with it. I cant do it, and I cant be ready for it. Thats frustrating.
I suppose the most frustrating thing to me is that I know Im not prepared. Even though I am better, I am not prepared. And you know, if you are going to play, there shouldnt be any excuse for not being prepared.