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Jack Nicklaus didn’t have much to say about Greg Norman’s absence from this week’s 150th Open at St Andrews – but what he did say spoke volumes.

It emerged over the weekend that two-time winner Norman has not been invited to take part in the various celebratory events for this week’s milestone Open.

The R&A said in a statement that it wants “to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the championship and its heritage”, adding that it does “not believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend”.

In response, Norman, the CEO of the controversial LIV Golf enterprise, branded the organisation “petty” and said he was disappointed with their decision.

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Addressing the media today, ahead of receiving the freedom of St Andrews tomorrow, 18-time major champion Nicklaus was asked for his thoughts on the furore. 

Initially, he attempted to sidestep the question – “I really don’t know anything about what they did,” he said – the ‘Golden Bear’ finally relented, offering a short but revealing insight. 

“Let me just sum this up with a couple of words,” he said. “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.”

And he did. 

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• A blether with Jack, Tom and Gary

Nicklaus also gave his thoughts on the prospect of somebody breaking 60 in this week’s championship. The current Open and major record low round is 62, set by Branden Grace at Royal Birkdale in 2017. However, given the generally benign conditions that are forecast, many are speculating that a 59 – or even a 58 – is a legitimate prospect this week. 

As far as Nicklaus is concerned, so what if they do?

“They’re shooting low now compared to what they shot 100 years ago,” he said. “But times change and golfers get better, equipment gets better, conditions get better. Shoot low scores.

“I don’t think it really makes a whole lot of difference, frankly. It’s St Andrews and it is what it is, and it will produce a good champion. It always has.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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