Nicklaus still all class in time of tragedy

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

When I was growing up as a kid, Jack Nicklaus was one of my heroes. He is the quintessential sportsman in a sport known for its honour. He is the greatest professional golfer of all-time, but it was not all-consuming. He is also a devoted family man, an overused term in this day and age, but applies truly to Nicklaus. As Chi Chi Rodriguez once noted, Nicklaus was "a legend in his spare time."

Nicklaus proved once again this week my admiration was not misplaced.

Despite the drowning death of his 17-month-old grandson, Jake, in a hot tub March 1, Nicklaus showed up a week later for a commitment at Loxahatchee Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., near his home in North Palm Beach.

"I made a commitment to you guys (the media). I knew I would have to come to the press sooner or later. I thought this was the right thing to do. I need to do this and you also have to move on," he told reporters. "Life is for the living. It hurts, but you go on. You make commitments and you've got to do them."

Class, all the way.

HEAR AND THERE: Ian Woosnam is the captain of the European side for the Ryder Cup next year at the K Club near Dublin. In a related story, the Guiness Brewery has added an extra shift to prepare ... So, Markus Naslund tells us Steve Moore is suing Todd Bertuzzi et al "so he can make money." REALLY? Those "Become a Lawyer in 30 Days" correspondence courses during the lockout have apparently paid off for Naslund.

REVELATIONS: Yeah, that was quite the financial hit Alonzo Mourning said he took to resurrect his NBA career. He got close to a $10-million (all terms US) buyout for not playing with the Raptors and signed for what amounts to $13,000 a game for the rest of this year. He played just over two minutes his first game for that 13K ... Another way to look at it? At that rate, Mourning would have had to play only one game to be able to buy one of Tawny Peaks' 69-HH breast enhancers. The autographed model sold for $14,000 on eBay, which proves once again, in many cases, the size of the bank account is not directly related to brain mass.

SPECULATIONS: So, it turns out, a lot of the AdScam money pumped into Jean Lafleur's money-losing Via Rail magazine was used for sporting perqs (a suite, including an open bar, at the Montreal Grand Prix, Montreal Canadiens season tickets and $50,000 to sponsor an American car racing team.) There was also $1,300 for a fly-fishing rod and reel. What were they going to do? Bait a hook with a Gitane and reel in the separatists one by one? ... Our early contender for this year's most unwieldy tournament name: The 2005 Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Pro-Am Classic Presented by Yes! Golf.

SOME ACTUAL NEWS: The Alexander of Tunis, one of Golf Quebec's Triple Crown events, will be held Sunday-Monday (July 10-11) this year instead of its traditional Friday-Saturday dates. It was changed at the request of the host club, Royal Ottawa. If the new schedule receives favourable reviews, it could be a permanent change.

JUST WONDERING: Ontario skip Wayne "Middle-Finger" Middaugh took a shot at Alberta's Randy Ferbey after losing at the Tim Horton's Brier, calling the Ferbey rink "pros." Okay, so three of them quit their jobs to concentrate on curling this winter. Middaugh's a golf pro. How many lessons is he giving in February? ... About 100 Trekkies (that's all that's left?) showed up at the gates of Paramount studios to protest the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise. Hey, Trekkies: Get a life. There's nothing worse than people who go on and on and on about something almost nobody else cares about being cancelled. Oh, sorry, NHL fans.

LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: If it's not bad enough, you have to hunt around to find the curling on television, once you find it, you have to put up with at least one blindingly stupid commercial. "It's not a fashion show, it's an emergency!" It's not a commercial, it's a pain in the ass! ... That commercial is almost bad enough to put a guy off drinking beer ... I said almost.

NAPKIN NOTES: The CSA is going to pay to have Charmaine Hooper's mom travel with her to Europe next month so Grandma can look after Hooper's new daughter Charlie, while Hooper plays for Canada. It's an enlightened approach by the CSA. The New Jersey Nets, meanwhile, have taken note and are thinking about paying Vince Carter's mom to stay home ... The 67's Mark Mancari (three hat tricks in four games) is realizing his potential when the 67's need it most. Good to see.

PARTING SHOT: Who thought it would be easier for Prime Minister Paul Martin to get Bono and U2 to come play the Corel Centre in November than to get Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow to sing from the same songbook?

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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