Nicklaus backtracks on ‘selfish’ Olympics comments

Even the greatest player that golf has produced is entitled to get it wrong now and again.

And Jack Nicklaus has all but admitted he just may have got things wrong when he called some of the best golfers in the world “a little selfish” when they opted to drop out of golf at the Olympic Games this month.

Jack Nicklaus Jack Nicklaus

Now The Golden Bear agrees he may have been a little hasty in that assessment.

“I started thinking more about it, and I thought maybe I shouldn’t have said that because it’s not about that,” Nicklaus said.

“They aren’t about growing golf right now…they are into playing golf.”

“I’m into growing golf because I’m past my time. I look to the future of what happens to it.”

“[But] these guys are thinking, ‘How do I make a living, how do I perform?’”

“If they get sick, and then all of a sudden they have a family that gets sick, then they’ve got another issue other than what they are trying to do.”

The return of golf to the Olympics at Rio has been criticised in many quarters with the likes of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, the top four players in the world, all withdrawing for a variety of reasons, with the Zika virus seemingly at the head of those “excuses”.

But as Nicklaus points out: “The thing is, for most sports, the Olympics are the pinnacle of that sport.

“For tennis and golf, the Olympics aren’t the pinnacle of those sports.

“Wimbledon, the US Open, the Masters, the British Open are the pinnacles of our sports.

“It has done OK with tennis, which has survived through the Olympics and went well.

“I think golf has to get started and understand.”