Jack Nicklaus Recalls Golf’s Past Glories

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PASADERA – Jack Nicklaus, who left his golfing imprint on Pebble Beach almost 60 years ago, sat outside on a stool on a hot day at the Pasadera Club earlier this week and talked about golf and life with a small group of people.

In an interview with broadcaster Jim Nantz, Nicklaus reviewed the highlights of his unprecedented golfing career, the eponymous Jack Nicklaus golf course, and the children’s hospitals he and his wife, Barbara, have given so much to.

It was less of an interview with Nantz, the longtime CBS commentator, than a thoughtful conversation between two men whose relationship dates back more than three decades.

When Nicklaus was touted as the ‘Greatest Golfer Alive’ by Laird Small, the famous longtime director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, there was no whisper of disagreement from the crowd of around 250. people, who rose to offer a standing ovation to the man known as the golden bear. After the interview ended, they repeated this honor.

“Do you know how much it means to everyone to have you in Pasadera?” Nantz posed rhetorically to Nicklaus. Judging by the care with which the audience listened, that meant a lot.

Asked by Nantz how it feels to come back to Pebble Beach Golf Links, where the 119th US Open is played, Nicklaus said he would repeat something he said previously: “If I had a turn to play. he would be at Pebble Beach. . . . It is always a special time for me to come here.

At Pebble Beach, Nicklaus won the US Amateur in 1961, three Crosby Pro-Ams (1967, 1972 and 1973) and the US Open in 1972.

Nicklaus, long retired from competitive golf, said: “I don’t play golf so much anymore”, but pointed out that he played at Cypress Point this week, where he was even par 13, before finishing with a 79 , corresponding to his age.

Under Nantz’s gentle insistence, Nicklaus recounted some of his most favorite and famous moves, the 1 irons that helped him win the US Open at Baltusrol in 1967, the US Open at Pebble in 1972 and at the Masters in 1975. They represent a small fraction of the 18 majors he won in total, more than any other golfer.

Nicklaus said keeping track of how many majors he won while playing was not his main concern. Tiger Woods is second on the list with 15 after winning the Masters this year.

“If I had known there was a Tiger coming, I would have worked harder,” he said, pulling a soft chuckle. “I was a lot more interested in my kids than what I was doing (playing golf),” he said.

When Nantz said Nicklaus had also finished second 19 times in the majors, Nicklaus offered a self-deprecating reply: “Choker!”

Nicklaus also discussed the Pasadera Golf Course and said he needed a bit of “TLC”.

A group of local investors bought Nicklaus Club Monterey last year and renamed it The Club at Pasadera in a nod to its original name. They said at the time that there were no plans to change the 18-hole golf course, Jack Nicklaus’ only signature course on the Central Coast.

“The priority is to get the golf course back in shape,” he said, after making a visit before the interview.

“I’m interested in Pasadera. I love Pasadera, I love Pasadera, he is, my children, ”said Nicklaus, adding:“ It’s great to see Pasadera getting back on his feet.

Jack and Barbara, who were also in attendance on Wednesday, have been deeply involved in establishing children’s hospitals for years and have formed a foundation that he says has “raised just over $ 100 million in the past 14 years. years “.

“These stories are much more important than a 4-foot putt,” said Nicklaus.

Among the guests were former Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who began his long political career as a local congressman in 1977, and the referee of retired football Jim Tunney, called by Nantz “the greatest referee in the NFL.” of all time. ”Tunney, like Nantz, both reside at Pebble Beach.

When the discussion focused on the Masters, the crowd heard an informed exchange between Nicklaus, the man who has won the most Masters with six, and Nantz, the voice of the Masters for decades.

It was at the 1986 Masters, where Nicklaus won at the age of 46, his first major in six years and his last major title, which Nantz said: “The bear. . . came out of hibernation.


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