June 7, 2015

GOLDEN GREAT:

How Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson remained fierce competitors without becoming bitter rivals : a review of The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus by Joe Posnanski, (Cliff Schrock, 6/07/15, GolfDigest.com)

The rivalry between Nicklaus and Watson detailed in this new book by and large was never outwardly hostile and cold toward each other. Watson grew up an Arnold Palmer fan and, like many, saw Jack as the guy cutting in on his golf hero's reign at the top. But Posnanski writes that Watson recognized how incredible Nicklaus was as a player and person from the time he first met Jack in 1967 as a 17-year-old competing in an exhibition with him.

That first step in the rivalry relationship masks the fact that an ultimate friendship between Watson and Nicklaus wasn't strongly evident, or at least not initially. Jack and Arnold made sense, and Jack and Gary Player for sure as The Big Three triangulated. But Watson, at 10 years younger than Nicklaus and as a thorn who put a scarring puncture on Nicklaus' end-of-his-prime chances to win majors, would not come to mind as being on Jack's buddy list. Of course, the wonder of Nicklaus is that his greatness in golf as a champion may be outdone by his greatness as a loser. It takes a huge amount of moxie and recognition of where golf relates in life to be able to walk off an 18th green with your arm around the player who just put you in second place at a major. Nicklaus did that with several opponents, knowing where golf ranks in life, and he did it most memorably with Watson at Turnberry in 1977.

Posted by at June 7, 2015 11:04 AM
  

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