Saturday, July 18, 2009

After swearing for years that he was done with James Bond movies, Sean Connery famously changed his mind. The title of his last 007 film, suggested by his wife, Micheline, was Never Say Never Again.

From his rookie years as a pro, Jack Nicklaus so often implied that he would retire early from tournament golf that his words became major ammo for Arnold Palmer in their career-long needling contests.

Particularly in their later years when they met at tournaments, the King would sardonically inquire of the Bear, "What are you doing here? I thought you said you'd be long gone years ago." And Nicklaus had the sangfroid to laugh about just that recently when he told a group of writers, "Well, I've been retiring for years, you know that."

But this time, could it be serious? For real? Will Jack stand by his widely publicized recent statements about quitting top tournament golf following this year's British Open?

Or does the fact that none of those remarks has quite slammed and locked and barred and chained the door on his future indicate that the Age of Nicklaus might, just possibly, continue after St. Andrews?

To first examine what might be called the negative side of this question, the man certainly has plenty of reasons for hanging 'em up:

At age 65, after more than a half century of heavy golfing wear and tear that has resulted in a hip replacement and back surgery, plus a slew of less serious but nonetheless debilitating ailments, Jack Nicklaus can still move the golf ball around pretty well "socially," meaning with his sons and close friends. For example, talk of scores of par or better, even from the back tees, periodically leaked last spring from his far-from-easy home course at the Bear's Club in South Florida.





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"The [2005] British Open is basically going to be the end of my tournament play. As host of the Memorial Tournament, I do reserve the right to play in it, if and when I choose. Also, I'll probably play in some fun things like father-and-son events and skins games as such opportunities arise."









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