ST. ANDREWS — Three-time Open champion Jack NicklausTuesday will be the third occasion that an American is honored as an honorary citizen at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Other Americans who were honored with the honor were Benjamin Franklin (1759), inventor and statesman, and Bobby Jones (1958).
Nicklaus, an 18 time major champion, won two Open titles at the Old Course in 1970 & 1978. He made his final major start, his 164th, in the 2005 Open in St. Andrews.
Nicklaus spoke at a Monday news conference, stating that when I stepped on the course in 64, all the sudden I stepped out of the clubhouse, walked here, looked at the first tee and saw the town, see all, I fell in LOVE with it instantly. Ive had a love affair since then.
The Royal Burgh of St. Andrews Community Council bestowed the honor on Nicklaus, who is 82. The 150th anniversary celebrations of The Open will host the ceremony.
Nicklaus said, I have always said that St. Andrews looked like an older gray town until the Open came about. It lit up like a bright light and it was stunning. St. Andrews, the week of Open Championship, is always beautiful. I can imagine that everyone who makes the pilgrimage here to play on this golf course feels that way.
Nicklaus didn’t intend to play in Monday’s Celebration of Champions along with other former winners. Tiger WoodsAnd Lee Trevino. Nicklaus claimed that he didn’t even bring any of his clubs to Scotland.
Nicklaus also discussed the ongoing battle between LIV Golf (a new circuit being financed from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund) and the PGA Tour. It has attracted a number of high-profile golfers, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson deChambeauAnd Brooks Koepka, away PGA Tour with guaranteed sign bonuses of more that $100 million and $25,000,000 purses
LIV Golf CEO Greg NormanThe Celebration of Champions was not open to Norman, a two-time Open winner. In a statement, the R&A said it didnt invite Norman because it wanted to avoid distractions during the week.
Nicklaus said, First and foremost, Greg Norman has been an icon in the game golf. Hes a great player. Weve been friends for many years and, regardless of what happens to him, hell always be a good friend. Unfortunately, he is not seeing the same thing as me in whats going down. Ill leave it at that.