Jack Nicklaus says he's still planning to shake the winner's hand at the Memorial
DUBLIN, Ohio — Jack Nicklaus shakes the hand of the Memorial winner every year, and plans to do so again, despite tour recommendations to refrain from hand-to-hand touching as a safety precaution against COVID-19.
“I’m going to shake their hand. I’m going to walk right out there and shake your hand,” Nicklaus said on Tuesday during his pre-tournament news conference. “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.”
Nicklaus addressed a variety of topics two days before the 45th Memorial begins at Muirfield Village Golf Club, including Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.
Nicklaus insisted the relative last-minute decision not to allow spectators at the Memorial was not made by the tournament but by the PGA Tour, with heavy input from players who were uncomfortable being around fans in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We didn’t make it, you did,” he corrected the tour media official who asked him how hard of a decision it was to keep fans out. “The Tour made the decision. We didn’t have anything to do with it. We were approved by the state; Governor DeWine actually liked our proposal. He thought that we had really set out every safety issue that we could, and we were going to give it a shot.”
The Memorial’s original plan to allow spectators would have made it the first event to do so since the tour restart on June 11 at Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge, but the plan changed on July 6 as COVID-19 cases spiked both in Ohio and nationally.
Ultimately, Nicklaus thinks the Tour made the right call on not allowing spectators, even if it means central Ohio golf fans miss out on attending the tournament for the first time since the first Memorial in 1976.