Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer in the history of the game, played his final round in a major tournament on Friday. Appropriately, it was at the Open Championship at St Andrews, the home of golf, and the scene of two of Jack Nicklaus's three Open Championship wins.
He even managed to finish with a birdie.
I'll bet my dad was on his feet in front of the telly, applauding with the crowd, as Jack walked down the 18th. Dad is a total golf nut, and tends to do embarrassing stuff like that.
My dad and his brother met Jack Nicklaus once. It was at Royal Birkdale during the 1969 Ryder Cup. They had gone into the club house to change out of their golf shoes after watching that day's competition, when Jack Nicklaus walked into the room to change his shoes. They went over and had a chat, and my dad got Jack's autograph (which he has since somehow managed to lose). Dad finished off the brief conversation by saying that he hoped Jack Nicklaus wouldn't mind if he didn't wish him good luck against the British team for the following day's play. Jack said he quite understood.
Later that week, Jack Nicklaus famously conceded the final putt of the tournament to Tony Jacklin, causing the competition's first ever tied result, with the words, "I don't think you would have missed that Tony, but I didn't want to give you the chance."
What a gentleman!
So much of a gentleman, in fact, that I have long since forgiven Jack Nicklaus for trying to kill me on the same course two years later:
I was six years old at the time, and my dad had taken me to watch one of the practice days of the 100th Open Championship. We were standing at a crowd control fence to the right of the 18th fairway, when my dad suggested that I step back a bit as the golfers tended to drive down the right-hand side to get a better line into the green for their second shots. I stepped back, and about three seconds later, a golf ball thudded into the fence post I had been leaning against. Up walked Jack Nicklaus, making jokes with the crowd who were moving the fence out of the way for him. He had a tricky lie in the rough. He shook his head, grabbed a man from out of the crowd, stood him behind the ball, and asked, "Well, what would you do?" The man said something along the lines of, "I'd probably just knock it into the middle of the green." Jack took out an iron, made a few practice swings, and struck the ball a couple of feet from the flag.
Retirement my arse! I don't think we've seen the last of Jack Nicklaus.