2005: Newsmakers - Nicklaus: British will be my swan song

Jack Nicklaus has announced that the British Open will be the end of his tournament career.

Nicklaus, 65, will play the British Open at St. Andrews for the final time when the event is held July 14-17. He has not played in the Open since it was last held at St. Andrews in 2000.

British Open champions are exempt until they are 65. Nicklaus won the Claret Jug three times, including twice at St. Andrews (1970 and 1978).

“From a tournament standpoint that will be it for me,” Nicklaus said May 16 during a promotional appearance. “I will play a few Skins Games and Father-Sons, but from any kind of tournament involvement, that’s it.

“I love St. Andrews,” Nicklaus said. “It’s been a great part of my career.”

But not great enough, it seems, to merit the “Old Grey Toon’s” most prestigious recognition. Earlier this month, at a meeting of the local community council, Nicklaus fell three votes short of being named an honorary freeman of St. Andrews. He needed 16 votes but received 13.

“It was felt it had to go to somebody who has done something for St. Andrews over a long period of time,” community council secretary Peter Lindsay told the Scottish Mirror.

Bobby Jones was awarded the freedom of St. Andrews in 1958. He is the only golfer to have been accorded that honor. Nicklaus was awarded an honorary doctorate by St. Andrews University in 1984 and became one of the few honorary members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in 1990.

“I expect I’ll be just as emotional at St. Andrews,” Nicklaus said. “I’m a sentimental old fool. I enjoy being part of history and what’s going on, but I don’t consider myself competitive any more. Hopefully when I get to St. Andrews I will have some kind of game. It won’t be great, but I hope not to embarrass myself. I will enjoy it.”

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