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Jack Nicklaus undergoes surgery

Jack Nicklaus is scheduled to undergo hip replacement surgery Wednesday, a procedure that will sideline him several months and snap his streak of 40 straight appearances in The Masters.

A spokeswoman for Golden Bear Golf, a company owned by Nicklaus, said that the winner of a record six Masters titles will undergo surgery at New England Baptist Hospital.

Nicklaus has been suffering from a degenerative problem in his left hip in recent years, affecting his game. But last year at age 58, Nicklaus became the oldest top-10 finisher in Masters history when he tied for sixth.

Earlier this month, Nicklaus announced that he would need to undergo surgery. The rehabilitation process will force him to miss The Masters and the first two major championships on the Senior Tour -- the Tradition and the PGA Seniors Championship.

"I've attempted to rehabilitate the hip and my body, and I have followed a daily exercise program over the past few months that has given me more strength," Nicklaus said in a statement earlier this month. "While I do feel stronger and in better condition, I am not strong enough to play the best golf I possibly can to start the year.

"This is also a quality-of-life issue. Once I combined those factors, I felt that hip replacement surgery was my best option," added Nicklaus.

Jim Colbert, a two-time Senior Tour Player of the Year, was selected to replace Nicklaus at the Senior Skins Game this weekend.

Nicklaus entered last year believing that the incredible streak of consecutive major championships for which he has been eligible would come to an end at 153 following The Masters. But the USGA gave him an exemption to play the U.S. Open and he gratefully accepted. Nicklaus finished tied for 43rd.

However, Nicklaus' hip injury forced him to miss the British Open, ending the streak, and subsequently the PGA Championship. "The Golden Bear" has won 18 major tournaments and is one of just four players to win all four.

"I will continue to work and rehabilitate my body, and when I feel strong enough and able to play golf at a competitive level, I will continue to play tournament golf," Nicklaus promised.

"If I want to play later this year and in the future, now is the time for surgery."

Nicklaus has lifetime exemptions for The Masters and PGA Championship and can play the British Open until he turns 65. He has won five PGA Championships and four U.S. Open titles, sharing the record in each category.

 

TRW