Sunday, July 17, 2005

Goodbye, Jack

This week, the sporting world said goodbye to one of its greatest legends. Jack Nicklaus truly was the greatest champion who ever lived; a true professional in every sense of the world. Glorious in victory, but graceful whether winning or losing; Nicklaus embodied all that we want to see in a top sportsman.

In many ways, I am glad that Nicklaus failed to make the cut this week. Finishing on a Sunday may have been the fairytale story, but it would have distracted from two things: one, the farewell to the Great Bear, and two, the victory of the champion. On Friday, Jack was cheered everywhere he went, and rightly so. For the moment to be his, and his alone, was something that will live in my memory for a long time. And for a champion of Nicklaus's stature, it was only fitting that for the first two days, he was the big show.

There's no disgrace in a 65-year-old shooting 3-over in two days, and only narrowly missing the cut. In fact, it's absolutely amazing that Nicklaus could play to the level that he did at his age. It's no surprise he's the oldest man ever to win a major championship. Yes, Nicklaus was a shadow of the former champion - but a competitive and popular shadow. The memory of him standing on Swilcan Bridge as he walked down the 18th for the last time was something special, and he thoroughly deserved his ovation. Thanks for all the great golf you've given us, Jack, and enjoy your retirement.