OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Loud applause rolled out of the gallery like rumbling thunder Monday afternoon. Jack Nicklaus was slowly walking down the fairway of what might turn out to be the last hole of tournament golf he ever plays on American soil.
People sensed this could be history. So did his buddy and playing partner, Tom Watson. As the applause lengthened, Watson came to a respectful stop on the fairway and let Nicklaus walk onto the green all by himself, making sure the moment belonged entirely to the Golden Bear.
Will Jack ever be back? Or did the man many consider the greatest golfer ever play his last American tournament in the Champion Tour’s Bayer Advantage Classic?
He said all week that he would retire after next month’s British Open, but also held out the possibility of competing again in the Memorial, the tournament he hosts each year in Dublin, Ohio.
After shooting a second straight 73 on the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate, the winner of six Masters, five PGAs, four U.S. Opens and three British Opens looked tired.
“I want to end as a golfer, not as a worn-out celebrity. And that’s the way I’m ending it, and I don’t like that,” he said. “As I walked to the 18th hole, as I hit my tee shot, I thought, ‘Yeah, this is probably going to be the last tournament round of golf I play here in the U.S.’ “
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