2004 Masters: Nicklaus in his final Masters?

Six-time champion Jack Nicklaus entered Masters week saying there was better than a 50-50 chance this Masters, his 44th, would be his last. After he missed the cut by two shots, he echoed those sentiments.

Asked Friday if he’d just completed his last competitive Masters, Nicklaus, 64, responded by saying, “It could well be.”

Nicklaus played well enough from tee to green, but faltered with the putter, needing 66 putts over two rounds. He three-putted (counting a few from the fringe) six times.

He said he’ll play in the Nationwide Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am (April 29-May 2) and the Memorial in June, and

doesn’t know if he’ll play any more than that.

“Why? Is there any reason why?” Nicklaus said. “What will I accomplish by playing? I played pretty well here and missed the cut. I played pretty well in Hawaii (at the MasterCard Championship) and finished sixth. I don’t get a big charge out of that.

“I enjoy playing golf, I love playing the game, but I don’t like to play just to play. I like to compete, to win. If I can’t do that, then I really shouldn’t be out here.”

Nicklaus has played in 44 Masters (his first was in 1959), winning six times and finishing in the top 3 on six other occasions. He finished sixth as recently as 1998, but has made only one cut in four starts since.

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