Jack Nicklaus is the host this week at the Memorial Tournament, just as he is every year, but much of the conversation for the 2022 edition is less about the tournament and more about Nicklaus.
The Golden Bear made news recently when Michael Bamberger of the Fire Pit Collective quoted Nicklaus saying he was offered in excess of $100 million by the Saudis to take on the role of LIV Golf CEO, a wildly controversial position that is now held by Greg Norman.
Nicklaus said Tuesday at Muirfield Village that he met with the LIV group at the Bear’s Club in Florida as a courtesy, because Nicklaus Companies is building a golf course in Saudi Arabia, but he never intended to take on the role.
“I've got zero interest in wanting to do something like that,” Nicklaus said. “I don't care what kind of money they would have thrown at me. My allegiance has been to the PGA Tour. I grew up on the PGA Tour. I helped found the PGA Tour as it is today. My allegiance is there and it's going to stay there.”
This quote from Nicklaus is somewhat in contrast with allegations made by Nicklaus Companies in a lawsuit for breach of contract and other offenses filed against Nicklaus on May 13.
Nicklaus Companies goes so far as to claim it “essentially saved Mr. Nicklaus from himself by extricating him from a controversial project.” The company did so, it contends, by “convincing” Nicklaus to “stop exploring a deal for the endorsement of the Saudi-backed league.”
Nicklaus issued a statement last week defending himself from the allegations.
"The claims made by [Nicklaus Companies executive chairman] Howard Milstein are untrue," Nicklaus said in the statement. "Our relationship has been a difficult one, at best. I have little doubt about the outcome, but I don't intend to make this a public spectacle, if it can be avoided."