Six-time winner will play in 45th Masters

Updated: April 5, 2005, 12:32 AM ET
Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jack Nicklaus will give the Masters at least one more shot.

The six-time Masters champion said Monday evening he would play for the 45th time, saying he wanted to fulfill a request by Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson "and a desire on my part."

"I feel like I can play, so I'm going to play," Nicklaus said at the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame's Botanical Gardens, where he received a key to the city of Augusta.

Nicklaus said last month the chances were "between slim and none" that he would play in the Masters. He felt he needed to be with his family as they grieved over the drowning March 1 of his 17-month-old grandson.

He cleared everything from his business schedule and spent the last few weeks playing golf with his son Steve, a therapeutic way to cope with the tragedy.

It was Steve Nicklaus' son, Jake Walter, who drowned in a hot tub.

"I don't have a lot of golf game, but I've played a lot of golf," Nicklaus said. "I'm certainly not in any tournament shape. I don't expect to be in any tournament shape."

Nicklaus, who has dealt with back and hip problems, said his health was good. One of only two former champions who are members at Augusta National, Nicklaus said he played the course two weeks ago and shot 74.

He did not say whether this would be his last Masters.

Nicklaus won his first green jacket in 1963 and got his record sixth Masters title in 1986, shooting a 31 on the back nine to win at age 46. He last made the cut in 2000, when he tied for 54th.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press