Bear in our backyard

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

Even with everyone clawing at him, the Golden Bear refused to rush his farewell tour.

Jack Nicklaus answered every question, shook every hand he could, signed autographs and smiled for all in attendance.

This was the scene during Nicklaus' Telus Skins Game appearance last summer in Whistler, B.C.

Using the exhibition event as practice for the following week's British Open at St. Andrews and his final rounds as a pro golfer, the Golden Bear had to be pulled from fans and media at the event, in which he finished second to Calgary's Stephen Ames.

A jovial Jack delighted golf fans with magical shots and then regaled sports writers with stories of his most memorable moments.

After spending hours entertaining his adoring fans and the ever-so-curious media, the 65-year-old left the press tent only to stand outside in the rain handing souvenirs straight from his own golf bag to the kids courageous enough to approach a living legend.

This same scene could unfold again this summer. The Golden Bear will be roaming our Rocky Mountains for the 13th annual Telus Skins Game at the Banff Springs Golf Course, Aug. 7-8.

This time, however, he'll have much more time on his hands.

Sources confirmed yesterday the retired Nicklaus and John Daly will be joining Calgary's Stephen Ames and Sergio Garcia at the exhibition event, which is open to the public. Tickets go on sale May 8 at Ticketmaster outlets.

Ames, who's having a solid PGA Tour season this year after winning The Players Championship, felt the same excitement about playing with Nicklaus as the fans did seeing him last year in Whistler.

"Even at 65, he was hitting the ball fantastic," Ames said.

"If you use your imagination a little bit and think back 30 years and you think, 'Wow, can you believe how good this guy must have been?'

"He was phenomenal and, if you take 30 years off, can you imagine how good he was and how long he must have been. I can't wait to play with him again."

A fifth and final player will be unveiled at a press conference here Thursday.

Nicklaus' presence this summer is sure to draw the attention of golf fans young and old.

With a burgeoning course design business and list of invitations to play in other exhibition events around the world, Nicklaus is keeping busy, even in retirement.

But the owner of 18 professional major championships could have easily cited a busy schedule last year prior to walking Scotland's Old Course one last time.

He didn't and, for that, B.C. golf fans were grateful.

Now it's our turn.


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