Shortly before he striped a 200-plus yard drive down the middle of the fairway on the first hole at TPC Twin Cities, Jack Nicklaus lamented his golf game at 77 years old as, "frustrating."
The golfer with more majors than anyone said it's now trying to play because he's unable to hit the shots that helped him win 18 majors and 73 PGA tournaments, amassing a resume that makes him the best golfer ever.
"But we had our time and we had our day," Nicklaus said.
While he said he doesn't play much, Nicklaus picked up the clubs again on Saturday for a just-for-fun round with Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Chi-Chi Rodriguez and Jerry Pate, the last grouping to hit the course at the 3M Championship in Blaine.
The Golden Bear said he hasn't kept score for a round of golf in 12 years and didn't plan to Saturday since the group played in a scramble format.
"If this were an event where the three of us had to come up here and keep our score, I don't think any of us would be here," Nicklaus said.
Trevino quipped back, "I wouldn't be within 1,000 miles of here if we had to keep score."
But the players, namely Nicklaus, Player and Trevino, returned to the tournament in Blaine in part to continue a friendship that was built by competing against each other for three decades.
They only see each other three times a year, they said, and still relish rounds together.
Nicklaus and Trevino, 77, said they would likely score around 90 even though Trevino still plays frequently, which prompted friendly ribbing.
"I don't know how you shoot 90 if you play everyday," Nicklaus joked.
Player, who at 81 is the oldest of the trio, still plays frequently in addition to regular workout and stretching sessions.
He said he shot 66 in a recent round.
"Was it a par-3 course?" Trevino quipped.
At the first hole, the group studied the late Arnold Palmer's golf bag and clubs, which were placed at the tee box in memory of Palmer, who died last September.
Before that, Player had looked up to the sky and delivered a message aloud for Palmer.
"I hope you've got a good course for Lee and Jack and myself," he said. "I hope it's in good shape."
The trio said they still think about Palmer on a daily basis.
Never one to miss a joke, Trevino said he makes cracks to the others about living the longest because he's the youngest.
"I was telling Gary when you wake up in the morning now, take your elbows like this," he said moving his arms side to side. "And if you don't touch wood, you're still here."
GRAND SLAM WATCH
Jordan Spieth has a chance to become the youngest golfer ever to win a grand slam by capturing all four major titles next week at the PGA Championship.
Only five golfers have ever completed the feat and two -- Player and Nicklaus -- were in Blaine on Saturday.
Even if Spieth doesn't surpass Tiger Woods as the youngest to ever win a grand slam, Nicklaus said Spieth will have plenty of chances and expects the 24-year-old to win a career grand slam.
"Jordan will win the PGA (Championship) whether it's this week or another year," Nicklaus said. "He's such a good player and he has a great short game. I don't think his long game is as good as it's going to be.
"I think it's going to get a lot better as he gets older. And as he gets older, he'll solve the problems of why occasionally he's wild. I think he'll correct that whether that's this week or next year or whenever it is. He's a really good kid, and at such a young age, he's playing great and will continue to play great."
This article is written by Chad Graff from St. Paul Pioneer Press and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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