BANFF -- Jack Nicklaus made a shocking revelation yesterday. According to the 18-time major champion, golf was never really a priority in his life.
Unlike Tiger Woods, who always said he dreamt of beating the Golden Bear's major mark, Nicklaus never really had any goal in mind when he first started swinging the sticks.
And therefore, he took the foot off the gas pedal in the prime of his career but only for the right reasons.
"I was never really focused on golf," said Nicklaus yesterday following Day 1 at the Telus Skins Game in Banff. "I like golf and I like to play golf but I didn't even know how many majors I had when I won my 10th.
"My priorities were my family. I skipped a lot of golf and a lot of preparation to do things with my kids. I wasn't really working that hard at what I was doing. From '67 to '70, I think I only played in six or seven tournaments a year until my father died, then I realized I was wasting time."
"If Bobby Jones had won 20 majors, I would have focused a lot earlier in my life. Tiger could get 20 and then the next kid could come along and focus on 20, but who knows.
"His life and my life are very different but also very parallel. He puts a lot of effort and spends a lot of time on golf and winning majors.
"His focus is just on golf. His father put him there to focus on golf and I think he has other outside interests but he focuses very hard on golf."
That said, Nicklaus holds a great amount of respect for Woods, who, at 30, recently won his 10th major at the British Open in Hoylake, England.
"I've enjoyed watching Tiger play, he plays very well," Nicklaus said. "He amazes me and I'm sure he amazes all the guys sitting here. Will he ever break my record? I don't know. Probably, unless he loses interest or finds something else to do."
As for the Nicklaus' game yesterday, it was nothing in comparison to Calgary's Stephen Ames.
Ames picked up right were he left off from last year's Telus Skins Game in Whistler, B.C. -- draining birdies and pocketing paycheques.
Ames grabbed six skins yesterday on the front nine, which gives the native of Trinidad and Tobago $95,000 after the first day of competition.
"I'm being a terrible host, I'll have to give some back the rest of the day," said Ames with a laugh following his 8-ft. birdie on No. 5, which gave him $15,000 more.
Nicklaus, John Daly and Greg Norman all left without any money -- Sergio Garcia took three skins and $55,000 -- leaving the door open for today's back nine finale, which begins at 12:30 p.m.
"It's a beautiful course," said Ames. "You can't beat the views out here. It's pretty short for what we are used to on tour, though."
Despite a solid day as far as skins were concerned, Ames wasn't impressed with his play and went far as to say he played "horrible."
For Nicklaus, who hasn't played much golf since retiring last year at the British Open in St. Andrews, the game wasn't to his liking either.
"I didn't make any putts today," he said. "You always enjoy your round more if you make some. You have fun when you make some.
"I had eight pars and an X. That doesn't get you anything when you're playing in a skins game, you need eight birdies and an X."
But apparently, as he's done throughout his whole career, Nicklaus didn't take it too seriously and just had some fun.