Jack Nicklaus watched the Ryder Cup on his phone at NFL game

Jack Nicklaus
USA Today Sports Images
Not wanting to miss his grandson's NFL game on the Sunday of Ryder Cup week, Jack Nicklaus (right, with Tony Jacklin at the 2016 Ryder Cup) went to Gillette Stadium for the Patriots-Bills tilt and streamed the Ryder Cup on his phone throughout.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, November 10, 2016 | 2:05 p.m.

NEW YORK -- Jack Nicklaus is considered by many to be the greatest golfer who ever lived. Given his 73 PGA Tour titles, including 18 major championship victories, it'd be hard to argue otherwise.

He's also regarded as one of the all-time greats when it comes to putting family first.

During the 2016 Ryder Cup, Nicklaus was in town at Hazeltine National to be a part of the Opening Ceremony and then spent two of the competition days there at the request of Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III to bestow some words of wisdom on the team.

Nicklaus was happy to oblige... but had to get out of town before the singles matches began on the final day to fly to Massachusetts with wife, Barbara, for that day's Buffalo Bills-New England Patriots game at Gillette Stadium.

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The reason?

Nicklaus didn't want to miss the chance to see his grandson -- Nick O'Leary, a tight end for the Bills -- play.

But just because he was taking in the 16-0 Bills win over the Patriots (the lone blemish on the Pats schedule this season) didn't mean the Golden Bear was in the dark on the happenings back at Hazeltine.

"We had our cell phones right there with us and we streamed the Ryder Cup on the app all the way through the whole football game," Nicklaus said in New York City on Thursday, where he dropped in for a visit at the PGA of America's 100th Annual Meeting. "So we got to see most of the golf, as well as the football game. Nick [O'Leary] played a good game and the Bills won. So it was a fun day to watch the U.S. team play well and come out victorious."

While many believed a U.S. win was incredibly important this year given its dismal 2-8 record in the previous 10 Ryder Cups, Nicklaus wasn't necessarily on board with that line of thinking.

"Was the win important for the U.S.? I don't know," he said. "There's always going to be an ebb and flow in an event like that. You're going to go through times when the Europeans are going be strong and times when the Americans are going to be strong. There are good golfers on both sides of the pond and that's what makes it a great event. You never know who's going to have the best team until you get there. They're going to have to go out and play the best golf. That's what it all boils down to."

As the PGA of America celebrates its centennial Annual Meeting this week, Nicklaus scratched his head at the reality that he's been a PGA member himself for half that time.

"The PGA has been the backbone of what has grown the game of golf," he said. "I've been a member for half of that time, which is a little hard to believe. Fifty years.

"The PGA of America was certainly the start of professionals promoting and growing the game of golf -- teaching the game of golf," he added. "It started out as guys who played the tour in the winter time and went to the clubs in the summer time or vice versa, depending on where their club was. It evolved into becoming tournament players and club players. The club players are still pretty good players."

Nicklaus celebrated another anniversary recently too -- 55 years since he made the decision to leave amateur golf for the professional ranks. It was a decision that came with a little regret at the time as it meant he wouldn't be able to defend his U.S. Amateur title in 1962, but based on his resume, it's safe to say everything turned out OK.

"I've had a great time in this game," he said. "I didn't turn professional for financial reasons. I turned professional because I wanted to be the best golfer I could be and the only way you're going to be the best golfer you can be is to play against the best. The only place to do that was on the PGA Tour. That's why I did that." 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.