Tebow, Nicklaus pair up at Honda Classic

Jack Nicklaus and Tim Tebow during the pro-am for the Honda Classic.

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - This year’s Honda Classic is going to need a pretty big Sunday to match the frenzy Tim Tebow brought to Wednesday’s pro-am festivities. Tebow, current quarterback for the Denver Broncos and forever crowned prince of Florida Gator Nation, where he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy, was part of a pretty nice foursome that went off at 12:40: New York Jets defensive lineman Jason Taylor, musician Kenny G, and some golfer who goes by the name of Jack Nicklaus.

As Nicklaus walked past Tebow on the range en route to the first tee, he stopped, admired a mighty swat by the 6-foot-4 lefthander and declared: “I saw half the ball come down; where’d the other half go?”

Tebow was asked before he played what he considered more nerve-wracking: Suiting up at quarterback in front of 80,000 screaming fans on Sunday or teeing off in a PGA Tour pro-am.

“Not even close,” he said, smiling, alluding to the task ahead at PGA National. “No. 1, I’m teeing off with Jack Nicklaus. And when you play golf once or twice a year, it doesn’t provide much confidence.”

Oh, ye of little faith. Tebow was struggling a bit on the practice tee, topping a few of his drives, but a helpful hint from Jerry Kelly would help straighten him out. Kelly moved Tebow a little farther from the ball at address, and soon Tebow, who takes a mighty swing, was hitting right-to-left rockets with his Callaway FT-5. He took it to the first tee, too, where he then pounded a huge drive on the 339-yard opening hole that carried to the putting surface and finished just over the green. True story.

(Contrary to reports, though, he did not walk across the left-side pond to get to the green.)

Nonetheless, Tebow, who says he plays only a couple of times a year, appeared to be having a pretty good time, and was happy to be raising money for charity. Many in the crowd lining the first hole clad in their No. 15 Gators and Broncos jerseys seemed to be loving every minute as well.

You could even tell the greatest golfer ever to play holds a certain admiration for Tebow.

“The enthusiasm, the effort level, this guy's a winner. I'll enjoy that,” said Nicklaus.

Nicklaus then smiled and added, “We're both probably about the same at golf. We'll have a nice, even game.”

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