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Sports At 80, Jack Nicklaus remains as relevant as ever

15:31  21 january  2020
15:31  21 january  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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An 80 for Jack Nicklaus ? Golden Bear remains a pillar in golf world, Palm Beach County no matter his age. Tom D'Angelo, Palm Beach Post Published 12:00 Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus talks about turning 80 during a conference call in his office at his home in Lost Tree Village, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.

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Jack Nicklaus standing in front of a crowd: In 2012, Jack Nicklaus, left, talks with Tiger Woods after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. (Tony Dejak, AP)© AP In 2012, Jack Nicklaus, left, talks with Tiger Woods after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. (Tony Dejak, AP)

In December, when Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus played with their grandsons in the PNC Bank Father-Son Challenge in Orlando, the 5-foot, 6-inch, 150-pound Player launched a drive at 18 that trickled past that of Big Jack, who in his prime would often blow tee shots half a football field past his longtime foe. This didn’t sit well with the Olden Bear.

“He said, ‘Will you stop outdriving me already?’” Player recalls. “I said, ‘You outdrove me for the first 40 years. Let me have the last decade.’ I never thought I’d outdrive Jack and I never thought I’d be taller than him either.”

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Magic 80 for the Golden Bear - Jack Nicklaus celebrates a milestone birthday as golf raises a glass Jack Nicklaus , the greatest golfer of all time, is celebrating his 80 th birthday Nicklaus is the grand patriarch of golf having won an incredible 18 majors When he followed it with a 66, the incomparable Ian Wooldridge of this parish, as ever

Nicklaus might have shrunk in stature, but he remains a giant in the game as he celebrates his 80th birthday today. Whether it is designing golf courses, passing on his wisdom to the current crop of PGA Tour stars, hosting PGA Tour events or his philanthropic work, Nicklaus is as relevant in the game as ever.

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Take the kids, as he calls them, including Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and just last week Patrick Rodgers, who have come to The Bears Club, the club Nicklaus founded in Jupiter, Florida, in 1999, for lunch with the 18-time major champion or to his house to drink from his fountain of knowledge as if it were ambrosia. Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman both parlayed advice before the Masters into being fitted for green jackets, and Patrick Cantlay asked for some tips on how to play Muirfield Village Golf Club before winning The Memorial at Jack’s Place in June.

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This is one of the most famous shots in golf as Jack peeled off his trademark yellow sweater on the 18th tee at St Andrews in the play off with Doug Sanders

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“How many 22-year-olds come to an 80-year-old for advice? Not many. I say, ‘You never listened to your dad, so why would you listen to your great grandfather?’ They happen to listen to me,” Nicklaus says. “I impart my experience that you have to play within yourself. The whole idea is don’t beat yourself.”

“He has been the best at giving advice on how to play golf. Not how to swing, but how to play the game. He’s talked to me about his strategy and how to play the golf course and how to play the game and what he thought,” says Rory McIlroy, who more than nine years ago was winless on the PGA Tour when he listened to Nicklaus preach patience. Soon after, McIlroy shot a final-round 62 at the Quail Hollow Championship to earn his first Tour title.

“The common denominator for him and Tiger is they are the best thinkers in the game. Just to pick Jack’s brain about that, and about preparation, and how he got himself around a golf course, that’s the best advice you can get. He was a master at playing the game.”

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Harbor Shores—the site of the Senior PGA Championship. In a course opening exhibition with Jack Nicklaus , Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Johnny Miller, Jack

As Jack Nicklaus turns 80 , we asked some of those who know him well to give us a sense of what The Of course, no kid in my class knew who the hell Jack Nicklaus was and Tiger was the best at that time. But he was one that I was nervous around. I mean, to the point he was the greatest ever

Jack Nicklaus et al. posing for the camera: Jack Nicklaus holds the U.S. Open trophy after his victory in Pebble Beach, California, in this June 18, 1972 photo. (AP Photo/File)© Associated Press Jack Nicklaus holds the U.S. Open trophy after his victory in Pebble Beach, California, in this June 18, 1972 photo. (AP Photo/File)

Most people retire so they can play golf; Nicklaus retired as a competitor in 2005 and then ramped up his work building golf courses around the globe. Nicklaus is the first to concede that without his playing career, none of his design business happens.

“Nobody would have listened to me. Golf has allowed me to actually discover something I didn’t even know I had. It’s allowed me to leave something beyond my game and my life,” he says. “Fifty years from now, no one’s going to see me play golf. But they’ll see several hundred golf courses, and they’ll understand that they were expressions of how I felt.”

Age has also mellowed Nicklaus the designer, who used to be criticized for making courses that only he could play.

“As you get older and don’t play as much, you realize what a humbling game it is,” Nicklaus says. “I design a lot more for the members’ tee. People of all walks of life and all skill levels want to play, and as an architect, you want them to enjoy it.”

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Jack Nicklaus with David Marr III in Golf Channel's 12 Days of Instruction. Jack discusses several aspects of playing golf including mental toughness, grip

This article on Jack Nicklaus ’s win at the 1986 Masters first appeared in the April 30, 1986, issue of Sports Illustrated. Nicklaus had beaten young men at a young man’s game on young men’s greens and beaten them when they were at their youthful best.

Nicklaus says he has nine or 10 golf courses he’s working on right now in some stage of development. Chris Cochran, one of Nicklaus Design’s longtime associates, tells a story of a course in Sweden that is on the drawing board that shows Nicklaus’ passion for design is alive and well. Unhappy with the routing and with a sudden burst of inspiration, Nicklaus climbed out of bed, had flood lights turned on, and walked the site until he arrived at a solution.

Jack Nicklaus, Patrick Cantlay are posing for a picture: Jack Nicklaus, left, presents the trophy to 2019 winner Patrick Cantlay.© Joseph Maiorana, USA TODAY Sports Jack Nicklaus, left, presents the trophy to 2019 winner Patrick Cantlay.

You might have figured that Nicklaus was slowing down when he announced in February 2018 that he was stepping away from day-to-day operations of his companies. You’d have thought wrong. To hear Nicklaus tell it, he basically got rid of all the parts of the job he was tired of doing and maintained the public speaking engagements, occasional golf exhibitions, course design work and fundraising he enjoys.

“I think everybody would like to do that,” he muses.

Indeed, his calendar sure doesn’t look like that of a man who is taking it easy. Nicklaus struck the opening tee shot at the Masters in April last year and teamed with Player in the Legends of Golf; hosted the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament the month after that; and opened more golf courses, including one in Russia and his first in Latvia.

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Jack Nicklaus can still get around a golf course as he shot an even-par 72 at Augusta National recently. Jack Nicklaus . Even par. Augusta National. Nicklaus is still almost 80 ! Speaking of Tiger, I would pay 0 to watch Nicklaus and Big Cat from any tees you want them to play at Augusta.

Jack Nicklaus with his MacGregor Response putter at the 1986 Masters. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus ’s stunning victory at Augusta. It was his 18th and final major win. He remains the oldest Masters champion ever and the second-oldest major winner.

He has attached his name to products ranging from golf balls, wine, beverages and restaurants to lifestyle items such as apparel and footwear.

Player calls retirement a death warrant, and Nicklaus still only operates at two speeds, says his longtime PR man Scott Tolley: “go and giddy-up.”

“I certainly don’t have any reason to want to go curl up in a corner someplace,” Nicklaus says.

Most of his efforts are geared to raising money with wife, Barbara, chair and co-founder of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which was established in 2004 to support numerous pediatric healthcare services in South Florida and across the U.S.

“We’re just getting started,” Nicklaus says. “She’s supported me for 50 years; now it’s my turn and that’s what I’m doing, and frankly I really enjoy it and it’s been eye opening to me. We’re getting ready to start a legacy fund – something that will last well beyond Barbara and I are gone.”

Last year, Jack and Barbara pledged to raise $100 million over the next five years for children’s hospitals through the Play Yellow campaign.

Nicklaus lives in North Palm Beach, Florida, these days, but his signature tournament has another central purpose, and that is to enrich the community of his youth. The Memorial has generated more than $36 million for central Ohio charities since 1976, with more than $20 million given to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“It’s the greatest second act maybe in terms of a meaningfulness, what you do with your life to affect others,” says CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz. “What Jack has done after arguably the greatest golf career of all time to now go to a stage in life, thanks to Barbara’s leadership, all these children they are helping, all these hospitals that have popped up; it’s an amazing thing.

“I’m in awe of them.”

Nicklaus might be officially an octogenarian, but he won’t let a bad back and a bum shoulder from tennis slow him down. He’s far from done with his second act. Giddy-up.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: At 80, Jack Nicklaus remains as relevant as ever

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