Jack Nicklaus beats his age, shoots par at Augusta National

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At 76, Jack Nicklaus can do more than just hit the ceremonial tee shot at Augusta National.
By
Greg Hardwig
Naples Daily News

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | 5:23 a.m.

NAPLES, Fla. -- Jack Nicklaus can still play. Probably not a news flash, but the 76-year-old Golden Bear had a couple of fairly noteworthy rounds in the past week or so.

A month ago, the six-time Masters champion hit a ceremonial tee shot to start the Masters. On May 9, Nicklaus played the whole course at Augusta National with a business partner. Nicklaus shot an even-par 72, beating his age for the second straight round -- he shot a 73 at a different event on another course before that.

"Of course, I played the front tees," he said with a chuckle. "I play up as far as you can play. It's a different golf course.

"That's pretty good for me, for an older guy, below my age twice."

Nicklaus, who made a site visit to The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club where is consulting on the major renovation of the course on Monday, was more concerned about how those scores were going to affect his 5 handicap.

"I keep ruining my handicap," he said. "I keep shooting good scores. ... That's going to take me down to a 1 or a 2. I was very upset. I'll lose a lot of money on that."

Jason Day has been winning a lot of money recently, capped by Sunday's dominating performance at The Players Championship, his seventh victory in 10 months.

"Jason's got as pretty a golf swing as there is in the game of golf," Nicklaus said. "He's probably the most complete package of all of the guys. I think Jordan (Spieth) is terrific mentally and as a putter. He isn't quite as fundamentally sound as Jason with the golf swing, but he's good. Rory (McIlroy) is probably very fundamentally sound with the golf swing, but maybe not quite as good a putter as the other ones.

"Jason's been pretty much the complete package lately, but the other guys will come back and win."

Nicklaus particularly enjoyed The Players Championship from a different standpoint. Thirteen members of The Bears Club, his course in Jupiter, earned money at TPC Sawgrass.

"How about that?" he said.

Speaking of "that" while Nicklaus has quite the trophy case, his wife Barbara is catching up. She was honored with the Dave Marr Award as part of the Insperity Invitational, a PGA Tour Champions event, at The Woodlands in Texas on May 5.

Bryan Naugle, the tournament director, created the award in 1999 to be given annually to someone in the golfing community "who exemplifies all the traits Marr lived by -- sportsmanship, honesty, character, integrity and a passion for the game of golf."

"Dave was one of my favorites, as is his son," Jack Nicklaus said Monday. "Barbara's got a lot of honors lately. She's doing really well."

So is her husband's design business. In addition to playing golf recently, Nicklaus was coming off a 33 1/2-hour jet trek to Belgium, two sites in Turkmenistan, and Morocco. He was home for three days, then went to La Gorce Country Club where he's also doing a redesign on Sunday, then to the Beach Club on Monday.

"(Tuesday) I'll go pass out," he joked.

-- The Southwest Chapter PGA gave out its awards at its spring meeting on Monday.

E.J. McDonnell of Bonita Bay Club was named Golf Professional of the Year. McDonnell was recognized for his overall performance, level of service to the PGA, along with leadership skills, the ability to inspire fellow professionals, and promote the game of golf.

"To be recognized by my peers for this award is an incredible feeling," McDonnell said in a release. "An award like this is about a lot more than just the individual being recognized. I feel very fortunate to have been supported throughout my career by our membership, co-workers, friends, family, and fiancee, Wendy. To be awarded this honor after receiving the Bill Strausbaugh award for club relations last year is beyond my wildest dreams as a professional."

McDonnell thanked Jim Hasley, an Iowa PGA Hall of Famer, among his mentors.

"This award is a testament to the friendship and loyalty of all that have supported me during my career," he said.

McDonnell started at Bonita Bay Club in 1999 as a member of the outside operations team, and eventually became Director of Golf in 2014.

Other award winners -- Christian Sheehan, Pelican's Nest (Bill Strausbaugh Award, club relations); Joe Groch, The Glades (Horton Smith Award, education); Jordan Burke, Cypress Woods (Jeremy New Assistant of the Year); Andy Scott, Andy Scott School of Golf (Teacher of the Year); Michael Chesnover, Kensington (Junior Golf Leader); Valerie Osborn, Bay Colony (Merchandiser of the Year, Private); Nick Stokke, Valencia (Merchandiser of the Year, Public); Rick Rainville, Tiburon (Merchandiser of the Year, Resort); Kelly Leonard (Henry B. Watkins Amateur of the Year); Dan Heaslip, Windstar (Vince Smith Award, low stroke average); Adam Miller, Kingsway (Player of the Year); Steve Waugh, Old Collier (Senior Player of the Year).

The Chapter also gave out its charity awards -- $10,000, SalusCare; $10,000, FGCU PGA/PGM Program; $10,000, FGCU men's and women's golf teams; $8,000, Southwest Florida Junior Golf; and $2,000 The First Tee of Naples/Collier.

And the Chapter also gave out $11,000 to its senior scholarship winners, with each earning $1,000:

  • Duneshka Cruz, Marco Island Academy
  • Bryce Watkins, Naples High School
  • Lauren Lockard, Bishop Verot High School
  • Nickolas Porraro, Gulf Coast High School
  • Michael Chesnover, Fort Myers High School
  • Hannah Cunanan, Charlotte High School
  • Emily Black, Naples High School
  • Hallianne Hobson, Bishop Verot High School
  • James Laurin, Charlotte High School
  • Landon Weber, Fort Myers High School
  • Sydney Shrader, St. John Neumann High School

This article was written by Greg Hardwig from Naples Daily News, Fla. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.