Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus revealed Sunday that he and his wife Barbara were diagnosed with COVID-19 in March but only had mild symptoms.
“We were very fortunate,” he said, per Scott Rabalais of The Advocate.
Nicklaus specified that Barbara was asymptomatic, while he had both a sore throat and a cough that “didn’t last very long” (h/t Ryan Lavner of the Golf Channel). He and his wife turned 80 years old this year.
In March, Nicklaus shared messages on social media urging people to take the coronavirus seriously and praising the precautions taken by the PGA Tour at the time:
Rick Scott @SenRickScott
My friend @jacknicklaus wanted to share an important message: we need to be smart, be safe, be careful where we go. DON’T TAKE A CHANCE.
Our seniors are the most vulnerable population, but young people can get infected and spread the virus. #CoronaVirusUpdates https://t.co/gcrV6rNtRQ
Earlier this week, however, Nicklaus said he hoped to continue the tradition of shaking the hand of the winner of this weekend’s Memorial Tournament, even amid the coronavirus pandemic (h/t Bob Harig of ESPN):
“I’m going to shake their hand. I going to walk right out there and shake your hand. If they don’t want to shake my hand, that’s fine. I’ll give them a fist bump or an elbow bump, but I’m not going to give them COVID-19, so that’s—I wouldn’t put anybody in that position. I wouldn’t do that, and if I was in any danger of doing that, I wouldn’t shake their hands.
“And incidentally, I like shaking their hand, too. I think that’s a great tradition, but it was as much fun for me as I hope it is for them.”
On Sunday, Nicklaus said on the CBS broadcast during a weather delay that “if the winner wants to shake hands that’s fine, [but] I won’t put him in that position.”
Nicklaus founded the tournament, designed the course it is played on at Muirfield Village Golf Club and won it twice. That handshake after Sunday’s final hole had become a staple tradition of the event, though the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic called into question the wisdom of continuing it this year.