The three-time British Open winner, 69, praises his old friend and rival Tom Watson for what he accomplished at Turnberry last week
Dan Patrick: How do you explain what you saw the entire four days?
July 26, 2009
Jack Nicklaus: Tom has not lost his ability to swing the golf club. He drove it exceptionally straight. British seaside golf courses don't require length, so he wasn't stressed out as far as having to drive the ball a long distance. He managed his game well. He just didn't make the last putt. Win or lose, he ended up doing something unbelievable, and we were all really proud of him. It was a great effort, and it makes us old folks feel good.
DP: You spoke to him on Sunday night. Was he upset that he let this moment slip by or could he relish what he almost pulled off?
JN: He was very upset, and he should have been very upset. I would have been very upset, and I was very upset for him. It was obvious when he got to the playoff that he had spent all his emotion and energy and didn't have much left.
DP: If you're Tom Watson, what do you do better at 59 than you did at 29 or 39?
JN: I don't know if you do a whole lot better. Tom was pretty darn good at 29 and 39. He obviously had confidence in his ability to play the golf course. He's been very successful at Turnberry. I remember the last time we were in Turnberry, in 1994, he ended up feeling like he gave the tournament away. I remember we were out playing the par-3 golf course at midnight, trying to blow off some steam. When I called him [Sunday] night, I said, "You ready to go play the par-3 course?" He said, "Only if you're here."
DP: Bigger surprise—that Tom Watson plays great for four rounds or that Tiger Woods misses the cut?
JN: They're both pretty big stories. I think Tiger missing the cut, frankly. To me, Tom Watson is somebody that still has a great golf game, and he'll be a contender at St. Andrews next year.
DP: Do you feel that it's inevitable that Tiger passes you in majors?
JN: I don't know, but I certainly think so. He's going to play a lot of golf courses in the next five or six years that he's won on before. They're going back to St. Andrews; he owns St. Andrews. They'll go to Pebble Beach a couple times; he owns Pebble Beach. Augusta he'll play very well. The only thing that would keep him from doing it would be physical [issues].
DP: What do you think about getting golf in the Olympics? How close are we?
JN: I think we've got a good shot. We made a very good presentation. I think the [International] Olympic Committee knows that the players are behind it and all the game is behind it. It would be great for golf to grow around the globe.
DP: Do you ever see yourself wearing pants like John Daly's?
JN: [laughs] You look back in the '70s and '80s, I wore them a lot.
DP: Do you still wear plaid pants?
JN: They haven't been in my closet for 20 years.
DP: Where are the pants from the '86 Masters?
JN: My museum in Columbus, Ohio. And the shirt. Oddly enough, the putter [from the 1986 Masters] is the only golf club that I won a major with that I don't have. One of my kids probably gave that putter to one of their friends.
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