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Nicklaus on course to return from injury

Jack Nicklaus said Friday that any talk of his career being over because of a herniated disc in his back are not true, and that he plans to play the Senior Skins Game in Hawaii at the end of the month.

Nicklaus withdrew from the season-opening MasterCard Championship on the Senior PGA Tour next week because of lingering back problems. He said he thought it might put too much strain on his back.

"My back is much improved and it gets better every day," Nicklaus told the PGA Tour's Web site from his home in Florida. "I believe I'm going to be fine if I keep working at it. Any reports of my demise have been exaggerated."

Nicklaus, who played his first PGA Tour event 40 years ago this week, withdrew from the Senior Players Championship midway through the second round in July, and hasn't played much since.

His only competitive golf was beating Ben Crenshaw in a Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match in early October.

Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion who recently joined Augusta National Golf Club, played in his first members' tournament at Augusta but was unable to hit the ball more than 210 yards and shot 80 from the members' tees.

He said he changed his workout program and is "500% better than I was just a week ago."

"I think I'm onto a proper rehab program now," he said. "I'm not taking any paid medication or anything. Last week, I probably couldn't drive it within 60 or 70 yards of (son) Gary. I figure I'd be about 10 yards behind him — which is probably where I should be."

Nicklaus turns 62 on Jan. 21 and said there will be a time when his body will no longer allow him to play tournament golf.

"I've played a lot of golf and I've had a lot of stress on my body for a long time," he said. "There's bound to be cumulative effects that aren't good. If all the golf I play from now on is recreational golf, so be it. How in the world can I have anything to complain about?

"But frankly, I think I'm on the right track. I feel better, and I think I'll play a lot more golf."

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