Golf legend Jack Nicklaus has just revealed both he and his wife had coronavirus.
During an interview with Jim Nantz on CBS over the broadcast of the last round of the Memorial on Sunday, the 18 time champion announced he and his wife Barbara survived a bout of COVID-19 from March to April.
“We were very very fortunate, we were very lucky,” Nicklaus said. “Barbara was asymptomatic, I had a sore throat and a cough that didn’t last very long.”
Nicklaus and his wife are both 80 years old — they celebrated the milestone on their birthdays in January and February.
“Barbara and I are both of the age… that is an at-risk age,” Nicklaus continued. “Our hearts go out to the people who did lose their lives and their families. We were just a couple of the lucky ones.”
The two self isolated in their North Palm Beach, Fla. home from March 13 to April 20 after receiving a negative COVID-19 test — Nicklaus received four positive test results and Barbara three positive tests, before they both were cleared of the virus. Nicklaus also said they both were tested for antibodies.
“We’ve got the antibodies, and theoretically we can’t get it and can’t give it,” Nicklaus said. “That’s a nice position to be in.”
Nicklaus said he would let the winner decide whether or not they wanted to shake his hand.
“If the winner wants to shake hands, that’s fine,” he said. “I wouldn’t put him in that position.”
After a brief moment of indecision with Memorial winner Jon Rahm, it was a fist bump.
“I’ve been dreaming of that handshake many times,” Rahm said. “Well, it was a fist bump because of the situation, but still, how many people can say they got a congratulatory fist bump from Jack Nicklaus?”
Rahm became the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with the victory, one in which he watched an eight-shot lead at the turn shrink to three shots with three holes to play, and then hit what he called the greatest shot of his life that turned into a bogey because of a penalty.
With a two-shot penalty for his ball moving the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a three-shot victory over Ryan Palmer.
Rahm got up-and-down on the final four greens, which made it feel even sweeter.
“One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life, and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I’m kind of glad it happened that way.”
All that mattered was that fist-bump — not a handshake — with Jack Nicklaus, and taking his place along his idol Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world.
Nicklaus wanted to be certain he had the antibodies while at Memorial, a tournament of his own creation, began. He’s typically congratulated the winners by shaking their hand at the 18th hole. He had another antibody test done Sunday, which confirmed they were still present.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a June 30 update, said it does not know if people who recover from COVID-19 can get infected again. It also said even with a positive test for antibodies, “you still should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others.” Research is still being done on how long antibodies remain in the system after recovering from coronavirus.
Nicklaus also said that he has been raising money to purchase PPE for frontline workers at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Florida. Florida is the new epicenter of the virus in the U.S. On Sunday the state reported its fourth straight day with at least 12,400 new cases.
“A lot of people have gone out there. The workers, the people in there are the ones sacrificing, risking their lives everyday,” Nicklaus said.
The Memorial, like all other tournaments on the PGA Tour, has gone on without spectators. Nicklaus has also been doing his part by staying away from most of the action, distancing himself from those on the course in Dublin, Ohio and wearing a mask.
Though this is the first time Nicklaus has shared his COVID-19 diagnosis publicly, there are those in the sport that were already aware he had the virus. Tiger Woods, a five-time Memorial winner and the person chasing Nicklaus’ championship record, was one of them.
“The fact that they got through it and they’re safe and here and healthy, it’s all good news for all of us who are a part of golf and who looked up to Jack and [have] been around Barbara all these years,” Woods said.
-with the Associated Press