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?
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.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Vince Carter says he's a better dunker than Dwight Howard.
2. Chris Cooley on why more athletes should be blogging.
Looks like pieces from the old House That Ruth Built will soon be part of a new House That Reggie Jackson Built. Mr. October has purchased, in addition to his old locker and some seats, the actual YANKEE STADIUM lettering that was atop the building. "I'm going to put them up in my backyard," he said. "I've got six acres in Monterey [Calif.]. I'm going to make a small baseball field, and I'm going to make a 100-foot foul line so when I'm 75, I can hit a homer."
In a recent interview Richard Jefferson spoke about his upcoming nuptials, but the Spurs forward later called off his July 11 wedding. He came back on my show to respond to tabloid reports about it, saying: The breakup came six days before the wedding date, not two hours; he did break it off by e-mail, but the couple then talked for two hours; he gave his fiancée "an amount [of money] to help her start her life over" but it was not a settlement, just something he wanted to do.
Line of the week
Patriots left tackle Matt Light on the gifts quarterback Matt Cassel gave his offensive linemen last season, after Tom Brady had given them SUVs the previous season: "He got us a key chain to go along with our Audi."
THE FINE PRINT: The 2010 NHL Winter Classic will be played in Fenway Park on Jan. 1—provided it does not conflict with Game 7 of the World Series.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
LOU NOVICK/CAL SPORT MEDIA (NICKLAUS)
JEFF ZELEVANSKY/GETTY IMAGES (JACKSON)
TOM CROKE/ICON SMI (LIGHT)