Jack Nicklaus Calls Greg Norman 'A Friend' But Confirms They 'Don’t See Eye to Eye'

Speaking in a press conference before the 150th Open at St Andrews, the Golden Bear was circumspect in comments about Greg Norman’s absence from the tournament.

Jack Nicklaus
Nicklaus speaking in St Andrews
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Three-time Open Champion Jack Nicklaus has returned to St Andrews for the first time since he played his last Open Championship in 2005. The 18-time Major winner is in town to be made an honorary citizen of St Andrews in a ceremony to be held tomorrow.

Nicklaus took the time to speak to the press about that honour and on all things golf. Responding to a question about Greg Norman not being invited to play in the Celebration of Champions event and Champions dinner, he was reluctant to be drawn on the subject, simply saying, “I don’t know much about it to be honest.”

When pressed on whether he felt if Norman’s reputation had been harmed by his association with LIV Golf, his response was brief and clear:

“Let me just sum this up with a couple of words. First of all, Greg Norman is an icon in the game of golf. He's a great player. We've been friends for a long time, and regardless of what happens, he's going to remain a friend. Unfortunately, he and I just don't see eye to eye in what's going on. I'll basically leave it at that.”

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Nicklaus was saying no more on the subject than that – focusing on his Open memories and the magic of the Old Course. Asked whether he felt that the calm conditions would lead to super-low scoring, he responded with a lack of concern.

“They might shoot low. So what? He said. “That's sort of the way I look at it. They're shooting low now compared to what they shot 100 years ago. But times change and golfers get better, equipment gets better, conditions get better. Shoot low scores. But I don't think it really makes a whole lot of difference, frankly.”

And he thinks the challenges of The Old Course remain as they have over the decades.

“You still have those pesky little bunkers out there that grab your ball every time you hit an errant shot. You hit one out there, you play it out sideways, you say why did I hit it here? Somebody hit it here 60 years ago or 100 years ago and they had the same problem,” he said.

Nicklaus will be just the third American to be made an honorary citizen of St Andrews when the ceremony takes place tomorrow. He follows the great amateur golfer Bobby Jones and the polymath Benjamin Franklin.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?