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Jack Nicklaus receives PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award

Jack Nicklaus sat a few feet behind PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, listening to him rattle off a list of his accomplishments.

“That was pretty glowing,” Nicklaus said.

It was just a synopsis, too.

Nicklaus received the tour’s lifetime achievement award Wednesday, honored for his extended contributions on and off the golf course and for serving as an “ambassador of the game.”

“Clearly, in this sport, Jack Nicklaus is the ultimate lifetime achiever,” Finchem said. “I don’t believe there’s one person who works in, plays, watches or appreciates the game of golf, who can say he or she hasn’t been touched in some way at some point in time by Jack’s competitive fire, his accomplishments, his gracious sportsmanship or his unwavering leadership.”

Nicklaus has 73 tour wins, 118 total victories and a record 18 professional majors. He also helped establish the tour 40 years ago and has spearheaded countless charitable programs.

Already a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Nicklaus became the eighth recipient of the lifetime achievement award. He joined Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Jack Burke Jr., Pete Dye and Deane Beman.

“It means I’m getting old,” Nicklaus joked. “They don’t give you a lifetime achievement award unless it’s near the last thing. It was a very nice thing.”

Nicklaus, accompanied by his wife and a host of family members, was presented a silver cup and a portrait that will hang in the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass.

His acceptance speech lasted nearly 15 minutes and included stories about meeting his wife at Ohio State, delving into golf course design with Dye and his decision to turn pro.

“If I want to be the best at it, the only way I could do that was to play against the best,” he said. “And the only way you can do that is to play against the pros. I turned pro in fall of ‘61 and obviously have never regretted it. I’ve had a wonderful time, a wonderful life.”

He also disputed any notions that he was ahead of time and would have been better suited to play against today’s competition.

“Some say maybe I played too early, maybe we were in the wrong era,” Nicklaus said. “No, I liked when I played. I’d hate to come back and play against these guys today. They’re all pretty good, especially one of them.”

Finchem read congratulatory letters from that one, Tiger Woods, as well as notes from President Bush and former President George H.W. Bush.

“I had a great time playing golf,” Nicklaus said. “I enjoyed it. It carried me to a lot of places. The game has given back to so many.”


May 8, 2008

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