News & Opinion

Jack Nicklaus: My wife and I had COVID-19

Jack and Barbara Nicklaus Memorial Tournament
Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, touring Muirfield Village Golf Club before the Memorial Tournament, contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, the Golden Bear confirmed Sunday on CBS.

Golden Bear tells CBS’ Jim Nantz that he and his wife, Barbara, tested positive for the coronavirus in March and self-isolated for more than a month in their Florida home. They since have tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody

Five days after saying that he was committed to shaking the winner’s hand at the PGA Tour' s Memorial Tournament, host Jack Nicklaus revealed to CBS’ Jim Nantz on Sunday’s telecast of the final round that he and wife Barbara tested positive for the coronavirus in March.

Nicklaus, 80, said that he and his wife isolated themselves at their home in North Palm Beach, Fla., from March 13 to April 20 and that they since have tested positive for the coronavirus antibody.

“Barbara was asymptomatic, and I had a sore throat and a cough,” Nicklaus said on CBS. “It didn’t last very long, and we were very, very fortunate, very lucky. Barbara and I are both of the age that is an at-risk age.

“Our hearts go out to the people who did lose their lives and their families. We were just a couple of the lucky ones, so we feel very strong about working with those who are taking care of those who have COVID-19.”

During a virtual pre-tournament news conference at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Nicklaus was asked about his tradition of greeting the winner with a handshake behind the 18th green.

“I'm going to shake their hand,” Nicklaus said. “I’m going to walk right out there and shake your hand. If they don't want to shake my hand, that's fine. I'll give them a fist bump or an elbow bump, but I'm not going to give them COVID-19; I wouldn't put anybody in that position. I wouldn't do that, and if I was in any danger of doing that, I wouldn't shake their hands.

“And incidentally, I like shaking their hand, too. I think that's a great tradition, but it was as much fun for me as I hope it is for them.”

On Sunday, Nicklaus amended his position on the handshake.

“They asked me if I was going to shake hands on the 18th green with the winner,” he said. “Well, if the winner wants to shake hands, that’s fine. [But] I won’t put him in the position.”

As winner Jon Rahm exited the green and approached Nicklaus, the tourmament host asked the champion, "Which way do you want it?" Rahm and Nicklaus bumped fists. Rahm also got a fist bump from Barbara Nicklaus.

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