World Golf Hall of Fame member, 18-time major championship winner to be honored at World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational
By FS OHIO STAFFFS Ohio
AKRON, Ohio – World Golf Hall of Fame Member Jack Nicklaus, whose victories in 18 professional major championships is more than any player in history, has been named the 2013 Ambassador of Golf by Northern Ohio Golf Charities. The Ambassador of Golf Award is presented annually to a person who has fostered the ideals of the game on an international level and whose concern for others extends beyond the golf course.
New this year, in addition to a private reception benefitting Northern Ohio Golf Charities and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Nicklaus will be honored on the first tee at Firestone Country Club on Wednesday, July 31, at 5:30 p.m., an event open to all Wednesday Bridgestone Invitational ticket holders. Fans will hear remarks from Nicklaus and PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.
“Jack Nicklaus is the embodiment of all that the Ambassador of Golf Award represents. On and off the golf course he has represented the game and its ideals with the utmost in class and dignity,” said Finchem. “He has excelled in all facets of our sport. As a player, there is perhaps no equal. He has been a prolific golf course designer, tournament host and successful business man. And, as a philanthropist, he has leveraged his position as a sports legend for the betterment of society through the support of numerous charities, most notably the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. “It is very fitting that Jack joins his wife, Barbara, as a recipient of the Ambassador of Golf Award.”
“I am very honored to have been chosen to receive the Ambassador of Golf Award,” said Nicklaus. “This is certainly a special and meaningful recognition. I feel blessed to be included among such a distinguished list of past recipients, including my wife, because I am certainly Barbara Nicklaus’ biggest fan.
“As Barbara and I look back on our careers and our lives together, we realize and appreciate that golf has contributed to us having a lifetime of fulfillment, enrichment and happiness. But we also felt a responsibility to give back, whenever and wherever we could. A legacy is not what you do on the field or inside the ropes. A legacy is what you leave behind for others and how you are remembered. Golf has always been my vehicle to competition, but golf was also a vehicle for both Barbara and me to give back. Our hope has been to leave the world, even if just the world of golf, a better place than when we arrived. So in some small way, I hope I have used the game of golf, my career and my life to do that.”
Among Nicklaus’ 120 professional victories worldwide, he owns a total of 73 PGA TOUR wins, third only to Sam Snead’s 82 and Tiger Woods’ 78. But it is his performance in the major championships alone that sets him above all others. Aside from his two U.S. Amateur Championships, Nicklaus won a record six Masters, a record-tying four U.S. Opens, three British Opens and a record-tying five PGA Championships for a total of 18 professional major victories, more than any golfer in history. He also owns the record for senior major championships with eight.
He completed three full cycles of the modern Grand Slam, and, as a senior, went on to win the Grand Slam on the Champions Tour to become the only player in history to accomplish the feat on both tours.
Nicklaus enjoyed several bright moments at Firestone Country Club during his career, including official PGA TOUR victories at the 1968 American Golf Classic, the 1975 PGA Championship and the 1976 World Series of Golf. He also won the World Series of Golf as an exhibition event in 1962, 1963, 1967 and 1970, before the wins were considered official PGA TOUR events.
Nicklaus was born Jan. 21, 1940, in nearby Columbus, Ohio. As an amateur, he won the 1956 Ohio State Open at age 16. Three years later, he defeated Charlie Coe, 1 up, in an epic final round in the U.S. Amateur, and won it again at Pebble Beach in 1961.
Nicknamed the Golden Bear, Nicklaus was named Golfer of the Century or Golfer of the Millennium by numerous media outlets worldwide, and Sports Illustrated named him “Best Individual Male Athlete of the 20th Century.”
Nicklaus turned pro in 1962, and by 1967, he had won seven major championships. Between 1970 and 1975, he added seven more. Nicklaus led the money list eight times, twice while playing only 16 events. Between 1962 and 1979, he finished in the top 10 in 243 of the 357 official events he played in, a rate of 68 percent.
Nicklaus was always known for demonstrating incredible sportsmanship in both victory and defeat. He finished second 19 times in major championships, but always gave credit to the winner. Another memorable example of his sportsmanship came at the 1969 Ryder Cup. With the outcome hanging in the balance, Nicklaus conceded a 2-foot putt to Tony Jacklin on the 18th hole, which resulted in the first tie in Ryder Cup history (the U.S. Team retained the Cup). Nicklaus’ act, known now simply as “The Concession,” is often cited as one of the greatest examples of good sportsmanship.
At The Presidents Cup 2003 in South Africa, Nicklaus, captain of the U.S. Team, was again part of a memorable act of sportsmanship and good will. Nicklaus and International Team Captain Gary Player declared the event a tie after Tiger Woods and Ernie Els traded do-or-die putts on the third hole of a twilight playoff. Nicklaus led the U.S. Team to victory in The Presidents Cup in 2005 and then again in 2007, during his fourth turn as U.S. Team Captain.
Nicklaus has helped shape the game as much away from the competition as in it. He is the founder and host of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, just outside his hometown of Columbus, and the course will host The Presidents Cup 2013 in October, becoming the first venue to host the Ryder Cup (1987), Solheim Cup (1998) and The Presidents Cup. The Nicklaus Companies’ global business includes golf course design, development and licensing around the world. With a philosophy of working closely with clients, enhancing the natural environment, and creating courses that are both challenging and enjoyable for players of all levels, Nicklaus Design has 377 courses open for play in 36 countries and 39 states. Of those 377 golf courses, Jack Nicklaus has been involved in the design of 290 courses.
Nicklaus and his wife Barbara have a long history of involvement in numerous charitable activities. They are the guiding light for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which supports numerous pediatric health-care services in South Florida and other markets nationwide. Nicklaus is also a national chairperson of The First Tee, and has twice spoken before Congress on the character-building values of the organization.
In 2005, Nicklaus was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award, by President George W. Bush. He was named the “Most Powerful Person in Golf” for the sixth consecutive year in 2009 by Golf Inc. magazine. In November 2007, an exhibit, “Jack Nicklaus: Golf’s Golden Champion,” opened at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Two months later, he was honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. In 2008, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA TOUR.
Nicklaus joins an illustrious list of Ambassador of Golf Award winners. Past recipients of the award are: 1981 Chi Chi Rodriguez; 1982 Bing Crosby; 1983 Byron Nelson; 1984 Gene Sarazen; 1985 President Gerald Ford; 1986 Bob Hope; 1987 Dinah Shore; 1988 Joe Dey; 1989 Frank Chirkinian; 1990 Barbara Nicklaus; 1991 Arnold Palmer; 1992 Nancy Lopez; 1993 Robert DeVincenzo; 1994 President George H.W. Bush; 1995 Michael Bonnallack; 1996 Deane Beman; 1997 Peter Thomson; 1998 Ken Venturi; 1999 Gary Player; 2000 Ben Hogan and Sam Snead; 2001 Del de Windt; 2002 Joanne Carner; 2003 Robert Dedman, Sr. and Jack Vickers; 2004 Lee Trevino; 2005 Pete Dye; 2006 Ken Schofield; 2007 Tony Jacklin; 2008 Charlie Sifford; 2009 Hale Irwin; 2010 Tom Watson; 2011 Nick Price; and 2012 Nick Faldo.
Tickets to the Bridgestone Invitational can be purchased by visiting www.worldgolfchampionships.com or calling 330-644-2299.