Jack Nicklaus and wife, Barbara, at the Memorial. Pic: Getty Images
July 16: The winner of the Memorial gets a bunch of rewards. Yet, many a player place that customary congratulatory handshake from the legend, Jack Nicklaus as the most coveted one.
Nicklaus, whose course is the venue for event, has a favourite spot behind the 18thgreen, from where he walks onto the green to congratulate the winner on Sunday. That handshake is something no player forgets.
But these are different times, where a fist bump or an elbow bump has come to replace the handshake. After each round, players no longer shake hands, but just fist or an elbow bump and ‘high-fives’ from a distance have become the norm in these Covid-19 times.
Yet, Nicklaus, winner of 18 Majors, plans not to let Covid-19 come in the way of the traditional handshake he offers to the winner of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Earlier this week, Nicklaus said he’ll be in his familiar spot ready to extend his hand to the winner.
“I’m going to shake their hand. I going to walk right out there and shake your hand,” said Nicklaus. “If they don’t want to shake my hand, that’s fine, I’ll give them a fist bump or an elbow bump, but I’m not going to give them COVID-19, so that’s – I wouldn’t put anybody in that position.”
He added, “I wouldn’t do that, and if I was in any danger of doing that, I wouldn’t shake their hands.”
The Memorial was supposed to be the first event on the circuit’s revamped schedule to have fans. Even though the state approved in mid-June to do so, the PGA Tour decided last week to scrap those plans.
Nicklaus said he would have loved to have had fans but he understood the decision. “I think that the Tour probably made the right decision as it relates to the Memorial Tournament. Maybe we are a little too early for the galleries. We didn’t have a problem with it,” said Nicklaus.
“We’re probably doing the right thing right now, and we’re going to have a good tournament either way.”