June 5, 2024

Jack Nicklaus has seen it all and done it all. 

Just where do you begin picking out the best moment from his illustrious career?

At least that was one question posed to the Golden Bear in his annual news conference ahead of the 2024 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

Nicklaus, now 84 years old, had a clear answer in his mind.

And that was meeting his wife and mother of his five children, Barbara, in college.

Had he not, he’s sure that he wouldn’t have had the hall of fame career that saw him collect 18 major titles and 73 PGA Tour wins.

The couple wed in 1960.

“That set the tone of my career,” Nicklaus said of meeting Barbara, who was a nursing student.

“Not everybody gets the right partner. And I had somebody who loved me, cared for me, supported me, and you know, that was really important.

“So that was a big thing to me. I don’t know that anything that was anymore important than that to me.

“And then of course obviously we have five children, I have 24 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, so we got a few mouths to feed at home.

“But that’s all because of her, and I think that, I give her a lot of credit for what I’ve won because, you know, a golfer goes out on Tour and if you’re not married, if you got your family, you get support, your caddie or whoever, whoever it might be, that’s very important to you.”

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

Nicklaus believes having a significant other has been crucial to others’ success.

Just look at Tiger Woods, whom he passed the torch to in 2000 at Valhalla Golf Club.

Nicklaus, then aged 60, played in his final PGA Championship and was aware his days were numbered.

He continued: “I don’t mean this in a nasty way, but I remember when Tiger was single and Tiger, then he got married and they said, ‘Well how do you think that will effect Tiger’s career?’

“And I said, ‘Well, I think it will only be a plus.’

“I says, he’s going to get tired of coming home and telling Butch Harmon, ‘Hey, Butch, I won another one.’

“He had somebody to share it with. You want to share your career and enjoy the fruits of your work.”

Woods is not playing this week.

There was speculation he might tee it up in Ohio as he spoke of his desire to play more professional golf in between majors.

Woods will next be in action at the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

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