Nicklaus leaving golf with pride, style Growing up you there are certain celebrities or figures that you may never forget.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In the sports world that one figure that stands out in my mind is Jack Nicklaus.

I don't profess to be a golf pro, not even a hacker.

But when I was flipping through the channels looking for something to watch while I was heading into adolescence, I can remember stopping during a golf broadcast just to see where Nicklaus stood that day.

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I vividly remember the day he sank that incredible putt to seal a win at the Masters in Augusta, Ga.

Nicklaus played what may be his last golf match on U.S. soil on Monday at the Bayer Advantage Classic at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in Overland Park, Kan.

He told the media when he walked the 18th fairway on Monday that he came to the realization that he was finishing up what could be his last golf round in the United States.

The Golden Bear, winner of six Masters, five PGAs, four U.S. Opens and three British Opens is doing what some athletes fail to do. The 65-year-old future hall of famer is going out still with a golf game that only we as hackers could dream for.

"I think it's very sad watching old boxers getting blown around the ring and things like that. That's why I'm wanting to quit while I still have the semblance of a golf game," Nicklaus was quoted in an Associated Press report.

Nicklaus said that he plans on hanging up the sticks after the British Open next month.

I was never one to call myself a golf fan, but I always stopped to see where Nicklaus stood among the field of golfers.

In just a few short weeks, I will no longer look to see where Nicklaus stands on the leader board. But I am glad that he's going out and not trying to hold on to what he has left.

Some professionals made that mistake.

Mike Tyson should never have gotten back in the ring after serving jail time.

Michael Jordan should have never returned to the NBA. He did it right the first time by going out on top.

It was even sad to see super-athlete Bo Jackson return from hip surgery and limp down the base paths.

"I want to end as a golfer, not as a worn-out celebrity," he said. "I want to end it as a golfer, to play my best."

After two rounds of 73, Nicklaus finished near the bottom of the Champion Tour leaderboard. He knows his game is slipping, so that's why he knows it's time to take a gracious bow and retire.

His game was far and away the best golf had ever seen until the emergence of Tiger Woods.

Nicklaus was the Michael Jordan, Joe Montana and Wayne Gretzky of golf.

He was golf.

Good-bye Golden Bear.

Thanks for the memories.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can e-mail him at or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.