Jack back at Sedgefield for charity event

By Bob Sutton
Published on

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Jack Nicklaus isn't exactly chasing Tiger Woods, but he followed him to Sedgefield Country Club slightly more than a month after the Wyndham Championship.

When Nicklaus went out to launch a ceremonial first shot prior to the A. Darrell Harris Memorial Golf Tournament on Tuesday morning, it was about a half-century in the waiting.

"My first shot at Sedgefield since 1964," Nicklaus said.

Nicklaus, holder of a record 18 major golf championships, made his way back to the Triad because of a connection to a certain family and his ongoing charitable endeavors.

It was some sort of power move because Nicklaus' shot smashed off a utility pole's transformer. He took another swing, this time the ball sailing into the distance.

Nicklaus said he stopped playing the Greater Greensboro Open because it came before the Masters and there was a trend. The years he skipped the GGO -- like in 1963, 1965 and 1966 -- he won the Masters.

"I came to the conclusion that the week before a major is when I needed to practice," he said.

Later, the PGA Tour stop in Greensboro moved to fall and summer dates.

"When you changed the date, I was done playing," he said.

Woods played here last month for the first time. The two golfers seem connected, if for no other reason than Woods' pursuit of Nicklaus' majors record.

"I think Tiger will come back and play well," Nicklaus said. "I think he'll come back and win tournaments. ... He'll get his game back.

"You go through those periods. I think that's what Tiger is going through. Just one of those periods."

Nicklaus said he tuned in for some of Woods' play in the Wyndham Championship, where Woods participated in his last competition before another surgery. Nicklaus saw Woods' fateful weekend triple-bogey via television, but was undeterred in his opinion.

"I fully expect Tiger to win more majors," Nicklaus said. "His limitations will be physical because mentally he'll get his game back."

Nicklaus, 75, said he likes the FedEx Cup playoffs and the excitement generated after the final major of the year. He finds that good for the sport.

Nicklaus has an array of business interests, including golf equipment, lemonade, wine and, his latest venture, ice cream. That's what he attributes to carrying an extra 15 pounds.

The business operations have charitable components, spearheared by his wife, Barbara.

"She supported me through all (my golf) and now I get to support her," he said. "I've enjoyed the charity part of it."

He said he plays more tennis than golf these days. His grandchildren's athletics pursuits occupy much of his time, particularly on weekends. He'll head next month to Korea for the Presidents Cup, which will be played on a course bearing his name.

He said international team competitions (Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup) have become too intense, deviating from the comradery they were designed to spawn.

"The biggest problem with the Presidents Cup is that U.S. has won it too much," he said, noting that's not the case with the Ryder cup.

Yet he's not consumed by golf by any stretch. He said he spent more time watching the NFL than the final round of the Tour Championship on Sunday.

Tuesday's tournament honored Furnitureland South's founder. A gala was held Monday night and the events associated with the tournament raised more than $250,000 for Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem and the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.

Jeff Harris, the founder's son, said the family has known Nicklaus for almost 20 years. In part, that relationship came about because of Barbara Nicklaus' fondness for the furniture empire.

"That's what she calls her favorite candy store, Furnitureland South," Nicklaus said.

This article was written by Bob Sutton from Times-News, Burlington, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.