Family matter for Nicklaus'
at BMW event
The historic significance of five family members participating in this week's
BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs isn't lost on Gary Nicklaus, but he isn't about
to dwell on it at the expense of losing sight of his agenda and aspirations.
Nicklaus' legendary father, Jack, as well as brothers Jack II and Michael join
Nicklaus, a former member of the PGA Tour, in the 156-player field in Traveler's
Rest, S.C. His other brother, Steve, is playing in the Nationwide Tour event as
an amateur paired with his dad.
The quintet represents the largest contingent from one family to play in a
PGA Tour-affiliated Tournament.
For Gary, it's an opportunity to have more company at the post-round dinner
table. Otherwise, it's business as usual.
"Everybody has been talking to me about how different this Tournament
is going to be," said Nicklaus, 34, a PGA Tour member from 2000-02. "Well,
for me it's no different. This is my job, and I'm going there to try and win the
Tournament. It doesn't matter that my dad is playing or watching me or that my
brothers are around. It doesn't change my approach.
"It's great that the family is going to be there. That's always nice,"
Nicklaus added. "It just doesn't have an effect on how I'm approaching the
The BMW Charity Pro-Am, played at Cliffs Valley and Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards,
follows a format similar, though not identical, to the AT&T Pebble Beach National
Pro-Am. Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 professional major titles, has played
with Steve, who carries a four handicap, 14 times at Pebble Beach.
Jack, 63, Steve, 39, and Michael, 30, all are playing in their first Nationwide
Tour event. Jack II, 41, last played at that level at the 1993 Dakota Dunes Open.
Bringing the Nicklaus men together in suburban Greenville was not a stretch;
Jack and Gary are co-designing a Nicklaus Signature Course, the Cliffs at Walnut
Cove, the fourth Cliffs residential community. One of the Tournament sponsors
is Greenville-based IMI Resort Holdings, a real estate sales and marketing concern
that has collaborated with Nicklaus Design on several projects.
The Golden Bear and his cubs aren't the only draw. Celebrities in the field
include Kevin Costner, Cheech Marin, Michael O'Keefe (of CaddyShack fame), Alice
Cooper, Tommy Lasorda, Jim Courier and Gabrielle Reece.
Nevertheless, Tournament Director Doug McGrath said Monday that ticket sales
were 25 percent ahead of last year, thanks to the infusion of Nicklauses, and
that the event could reach a sellout, which would be 30,000 daily spectators.
The Golf Channel is providing live four-round coverage from 1:30-4 p.m. ET,
and replays from 8-10:30 p.m.
Playing golf with his sons always has been a priority for Jack Nicklaus. Besides
pairing with Steve at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Bear has competed
in the Office Depot Father-Son Challenge with Gary and Jack II, and with Michael
in Johnny Miller's Champion's Challenge in Utah.
He has not competed since missing the cut in The Masters, and though he was
disappointed with his scoring at soggy at Augusta National Golf Club, he said
he was looking forward to his first foray on the Nationwide Tour.
"It will be fun. It's a nice opportunity for all of us and we're grateful
to have that time together, though, obviously, we won't all be together on the
golf course in this situation," Nicklaus said. "But that's why I'm going,
to compete and enjoy some time with the kids. I've always tried to play at least
one Tournament with all my boys."
The possibility exists that at least one of the boys playing as a professional,
most likely Gary, will be in the same foursome with his father.
Gary Nicklaus was to have traveled with brothers Steve and Michael Sunday
to South Carolina, but a few days ago tweaked a back injury that first flared
up in January. He is to arrive at The Cliffs Tuesday with his father and brother
Jack II, and he expects to be ready in time for Thursday's opening round.
Playing on sponsor's exemptions, Gary Nicklaus has made the cut in one of five
events on the PGA Tour, finishing tied for 31st at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
A former Nationwide Tour member, he has retooled his swing under the tutelage
of David Leadbetter in hopes of regaining his Tour status. His next start after
this week comes at the end of May at the Memorial Tournament, where he is receiving
"David has helped me tremendously with my ball-striking," Gary Nicklaus
said. "It has always been my strength, but in the last few years it had gotten
to be a weakness. Now it's back to where it should be."
The improvement has allowed him to concentrate on his putting, which he calls,
"the weak link in my game." Drills and diligent practice with the blade
have been part of his daily regimen for reasons that have become too obvious to
"I've been studying the stats, and at Bay Hill I saw that Brad Faxon hit
32 percent of his fairways and 42 percent of his greens in the third round and
shot 65," Nicklaus said. "Why? Because he putts well. I've been working
hard on my swing for years and now it's time for me to get better in other areas.
I know that's going to give me the best opportunity to reach my goals."
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