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USGA Honors Nicklaus
In celebration of his 50-plus-year career and contributions to the game as a champion, course designer, philanthropist and ambassador, Jack Nicklaus was honored Wednesday by the United States Golf Association (USGA) with a series of public acknowledgments on a scale befitting his impressive accomplishments and enduring connection to the U.S. Open, which starts Thursday.
These acknowledgments, which were announced on the eve of the 112th U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, include: dedicating the gold medal presented each year to the U.S. Open champion in Jack's honor; announcing plans to expand the USGA Museum with a new Jack Nicklaus Room dedicated to his USGA championships and career; and debuting Sunday, June 17, on NBC, a new documentary film that celebrates the 50th anniversary of Jack's 1962 U.S. Open victory, his first professional major championship, which marked the era of the "Golden Bear."
"These are honors that truly challenge you to put words with, because of how humbling and meaningful they are," Nicklaus said. "I have always held the USGA and their championships in the highest regard. They are the caretakers of our game. In addition, I have always loved USGA championships. I have played in a total of 71, and since I was a 13-year-old junior, they have always been the ultimate and complete examinations of a golfer.
"While every major championship is meaningful and memorable, I have always considered the U.S. Open the most important major championship to me," added Nicklaus. "The U.S. Open represents our national championship and because I am an American, there is a special connection to that major and an enormous sense of satisfaction when fortunate to win it. With the dedication of this medal, and to be associated with this great championship going forward, is among the most special recognitions I have ever received."
"Jack Nicklaus is one of the most compelling sports figures of the last 50 years, and the USGA is delighted to honor him in these ways," said USGA President Glen D. Nager. "From the newly named Jack Nicklaus Medal, to our plans to dedicate a Jack Nicklaus Room to the new documentary film that celebrates Jack's first major, these public acknowledgments represent a fitting capstone to Jack's USGA legacy and a fitting way to recognize the breadth of his accomplishments and contributions to the game of golf."
Dedicating the Nicklaus Medal
The USGA announced that the medal presented each year to the winner of the U.S. Open has been renamed in Nicklaus' honor and redesigned with his image. The gold medal, which has not had a formal name and whose design has evolved over time, dates to the first U.S. Open in 1895, when Horace Rawlins received the prize, and has been given to every U.S. Open champion since.
Beginning with the 2012 U.S. Open, each champion will receive the newly named Jack Nicklaus Medal, which incorporates a silhouette of the four-time U.S. Open champion in its design. "As we continue to crown future great U.S. Open champions, they will be forever linked to Jack Nicklaus and his remarkable U.S. Open record," added Nager.
Nicklaus is among the greatest U.S. Open champions in history, with a record-tying four victories, and has been inextricably linked with the USGA. In addition to his four U.S. Open wins, he has four runner-up finishes, a record-tying 11 top-five finishes and a record 18 top-10 finishes. Nicklaus was 17 years old when he played in his first U.S. Open, in 1957, and age 60 when he played in his last, in 2000. His 44 U.S. Open starts, made consecutively, is a record.
Nicklaus's relationship with the USGA began at age 13, when he played in his first USGA championship, the 1953 U.S. Junior Amateur. Nicklaus went on to win eight USGA championships, victories that spanned five decades, from the 1959 U.S. Amateur to the 1993 U.S. Senior Open. Nicklaus also played on two winning USA Walker Cup Teams in 1959 and 1961, and led the USA to a World Amateur Team Championship win in 1960.
In addition to four U.S. Open titles, Nicklaus captured six Masters, five PGA Championships and three Open Championship victories for a total of 18 professional major championships, the most of any player in the game's history. He has 73 PGA Tour victories and 120 professional wins around the world.
Building a Nicklaus Exhibition Gallery
Since few people have added more to the history of the game than Nicklaus, the USGA also announced plans to expand the USGA Museum with construction of a new exhibition gallery - The Jack Nicklaus Room - that will highlight his iconic performances in USGA championships, as well as his storied career in the game.
The 24-month expansion project, which could break ground as early as summer 2013 and open in spring 2015, will add more than 1,000 square feet of exhibition space to the USGA Museum, while maintaining the exterior and interior architectural character of the historic John Russell Pope building that today anchors the USGA campus in Far Hills, N.J.
Through artifacts, multi-media imagery and words, the exhibition will celebrate Nicklaus's career, primarily through the lens of his four U.S. Open victories in 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1980, as well as his play in USGA championships over five decades.
Other areas of the new exhibition gallery will feature the story of Jack's career in the major championships, overall PGA Tour career and prolific course-design career, with his most significant courses profiled, allowing visitors to explore the relationship between his personal design philosophies and the course-set-up philosophy for the U.S. Open Championship, where Jack achieved such remarkable success.
The displays throughout the gallery will also touch other aspects of his playing career, as well as aspects of his personal and professional life that have been important to his success both on and off the course. These elements will include the Nicklaus family, Jack's many honors and awards, his business ventures, and special friends, colleagues and partners.
A virtual, web-based visitor experience will also be developed for the USGA Museum's website to share the content of the Nicklaus Room with a global audience.
"The planned Jack Nicklaus Room will help to expand our mission to preserve and celebrate golf history, and it will serve as a fitting home for Jack's enduring legacy," said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. "We're proud to include his unmatched career in an expanded USGA Museum, a place that truly honors the greatest U.S. champions in the game's history."
Debuting "1962 U.S. Open: Jack's First Major"
The USGA's recognition of Jack Nicklaus' career will also be celebrated on the small screen. On Sunday, June 17, at 2 p.m. EDT on NBC, prior to live final-round coverage of the 112th U.S. Open, the USGA will debut "1962 U.S. Open: Jack's First Major," the association's first-ever documentary film produced for network television. The one-hour program chronicles Nicklaus' first U.S. Open victory in 1962 at Oakmont Country Club, which set in motion one of the most prolific careers in professional golf and at the same time ignited one of the greatest rivalries in sport, between Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
"1962 U.S. Open: Jack's First Major" is a USGA film produced in collaboration with the USGA Museum and Ross Greenburg Productions, and features archival footage of the 1962 U.S. Open from the Museum's own collection, and other archival material from Oakmont Country Club, the Jack Nicklaus Museum, Augusta National Golf Club and The R&A, as well as newsreels of the day. The film also includes fresh interviews with Nicklaus, Palmer and other luminaries from golf and journalism to tell the complete story of the 1962 U.S. Open Championship, from the opening round through the dramatic 18-hole playoff, covering events both on and off the course.
A preview trailer of the documentary film is available at www.usga.org/62usopenfilm.
Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Coyote, who has lent his rich voice to more than 120 films and documentaries, "1962 U.S. Open: Jack's First Major" culminates in a retelling of the final rounds of the 1962 U.S. Open and Sunday's dramatic 18-hole playoff, exploring the emotions of Nicklaus, the undaunted young champion, and Palmer, the hometown favorite. The film closes with reflections from Nicklaus on what the victory meant to him then and now, and how it set the tone for an unrivaled career.
"Based on his overall career performance, Jack Nicklaus is arguably the greatest U.S. Open player of all time, and we're thrilled to tell the story of his win at the 1962 U.S. Open through this new film," said Robert Williams, director of the USGA Museum. "This film masterfully tells the story of the turning point in Nicklaus' career, from successful amateur and collegiate player to U.S. Open champion, which set into motion a major-championship record that has remained unmatched for 50 golden years."
The film's high-profile list of interviewees also includes former USGA champions Gary Player, Deane Beman and Billy Maxwell, all of whom played in the 1962 U.S. Open with Nicklaus; golf journalists Dave Anderson and Marino Parascenzo, who covered the 1962 U.S. Open; USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and Rand Jerris, the USGA's senior managing director for Public Affairs and noted golf historian.
Sponsorship and support for the USGA film has been generously provided by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), a longtime supporter of Nicklaus and the United States Golf Association. As an RBS ambassador, Nicklaus represents RBS in business as well as growth-of-the-game initiatives across the globe.
The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information, visit www.usga.org.