I’m going to come clean and shy away from standard journalism that refuses to play favorites, take sides, or admit to a piece of one’s own personal fandom. Full disclosure: I’m a die-hard fan of Jack Nicklaus, and have been for my entire life.
Today, I’m going to finally tell the world why.
First, here’s a little more about me. Golf is in my family’s blood. My Dad likely could have gone pro when he was younger, but it was a different time back then. He loves the game, and still plays as much as he can today. He still kicks my butt every now and again, too. OK, fine, most of the time. Living up north, I don’t get nearly as much practice as the old man does.
Being an admirer and avid participant of the game, I grew up with a love for Augusta National and The Masters tournament. Like many, I had dreams of wearing a green jacket some day.
1986: KP Watches The Golden Bear Make History
My appreciation for The Masters grew ten fold when I watched Nicklaus pull off his miraculous run to win the tournament in 1986. Having a similar demeanor, complexion and look of my Dad at the time, it was almost like I was watching the old man make the run himself. That, plus having his son Jackie caddying that weekend, it pushed a 9-year old kid to dream of himself carrying the bag for his Dad on the way to winning a green jacket.
1993: KP Travels to Augusta
Seven years after his historic Masters victory, Jack Nicklaus was once again at the top of the leaderboard at The Masters (after the first round). The Golden Bear hung around for a while, and I was there to witness it. My Dad and I went to The Masters that year, and it was a great bonding experience for us. That was the year where Bernard Langer won and Fred Couples was the reigning champion. The weather was crappy, but the constant rain and mud did put a damper on the time we had amidst the picture perfect fairways and blooming azaleas. Ever since, I’ve wanted to get back. I hope that soon, some luck can bring me some tickets, and a trip with my Dad to Augusta again.
1994: KP Meets Jack Nicklaus
I played for my high shool golf team, and we were one of the better teams in the state of Florida. A number of the high school teams received invites to Arnie’s tournament – the Bay Hill Classic – during the practice rounds. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the players, interact with them, and watch them work on their game. It was also an opportunity to step up and receive autographs from some of the legends, too.
Jack Nicklaus was at the tournament that year. He was obviously a hot commodity. On every tee box and green, Nicklaus was met by crowds reminiscent of the paparazzi chasing down ‘Brangelina’ or Lindsay Lohan. Via a small bridge, I approached a tee box with a slew of people. The players had only so much time to sign and say hello, and Nicklaus’ time was up. Nicklaus said to me I would be the first that he would meet on the following green. I was devastated, thinking the golfer I looked up to had blown me off. But I followed his group to see it through.
At the next green, Nicklaus was met by a swarm of patrons – again. Many were pushing hats, papers and programs in his face frantically – and almost rudely. There must have been 50 or so people rushing to him. It was nearly twice as much as the last hole. And that’s when my interest in Jack Nicklaus tripled – much like the Grinch’s heart that one Christmas morning. Jack sought me out, looking through the crowd and heading to me first, shaking my hand, signing my hat and saying hello. I realize because of his popularity, I couldn’t sit and talk golf with him, but the fact that he sought me out really said something about him. Most athletes were too arrogant or preoccupied to really care about anyone else. But the Golden Bear held his promise that day.
2008: Tiger Arrograntly Preaches For Majors Record
Nicklaus had his 18 majors set as a record, and the world of golf was firmly in Tiger Woods’ hands. During an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt in 2008, Woods was asked a series of questions about golf, winning and retirement. I can’t forget the fact that he answered a handful of questions simultaneously – and arrogantly – with simply, “19”. No matter what the question, the number of majors was all he cared about.
I get the fact that most of us have a competitive fire and hate to lose. I’m that way, too. But with golf, I would just love to be out there playing. It would be great to win as many tournaments as possible (but without the focus on the major record).
Many shove the racism card at me. They say I only have issues with Tiger and how he handled himself off the course. That’s simply not true. Woods has always been classless on the golf course. He slams clubs and screams expletives that get caught on live national TV (with kids watching). To me, he’s never been a role model. That was all well before he decided to parade around as the country’s biggest celebrity man whore. All while being married to one of the most beautiful women on Earth.
As you can clearly see, to me, Woods has been a picture of evil aggressively attacking an idol’s record. I’m also a guy that embraces new records and seeing athletes of today rewrite the history books. So, blame my own selfishness and how classy I thought Jack Nicklaus was during his time. Mix my own experiences to cement them in.
On this, the 25th anniversary of Nicklaus’ ’86 Masters title, I felt it necessary to be different and open up about my past sports passions and stories. Do you understand my side, or does this opinion just land in the middle of in Rae’s Creek?
I truly believe that Tiger Woods does deserve a second chance to fix his life and his image. Whether he is on the right path to doing so, I have no idea. I won’t sit here and tell you that I don’t want to see him right the ship with his personal problems. It’s the selfish side of me that hopes that when the dust settles, the Golden Bear will remain atop the record books.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can go back to being unbiased.
If you have any personal opinions about Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or the PGA Tour, I’d love to hear about it – and as always, thanks for reading and supporting The Wife Hates Sports.
Are You Rooting For Tiger Woods To Win The Masters?
- Yes (50%, 3 Votes)
- No (50%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
Thanks REV, yeah it was pretty awesome. Sometime I can tell you about some of the other guys that were great to talk golf with there… the late, great Payne Stewart actually may have been the best of all. He was incredibly funny and engaging to the younger players. Great person, a shame he was taken away from the world so prematurely.
Well, Tiger was relevant at the Masters this year, and what a final round that was! Please tell me you watched it – unreal finish on the final day.
Choi played well, but faded… your buddy must have been really sweating that one out into the final hours.
That’s a great Bay Hill story, man.
And you should really go buy yourself a green jacket already. Let me if you need a caddy too. I’ll make sure the golf bag is plenty stocked.
Oh, and I didn’t answer your poll for a few reasons. Despite all he’s been through, I still find myself pulling for Tiger. I would like to see him get out of this funk. Golf is just better when he’s relevant on Sundays.
But, a buddy of mine has a 60:1 future on KJ Choi that, if it hits, will pay him $1200 on his $20 investment.
So let’s just say I have a horse in this race.