Jack Nicklaus on if Tiger Woods will play again, supporting Donald Trump and needing a cane

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Jack Nicklaus with a cane? Apparently the 81-year-old legend suffered an injury playing pickleball. Allow me to speak for everyone when I say that’s an image we’re not ready to see. It’s bad enough that the other golfer in the “Greatest of All Time” conversation is hobbling around on crutches.

Len Shapiro, filing for The Washington Post as he did for 41 years, spent 45 minutes with the 18-time major champion at Creighton Farms, the private course Nicklaus designed in the Virginia countryside.

Here’s Nicklaus on Tiger Woods, former president Donald Trump and a pickleball accident that has him on the D.L.

Nicklaus on his endorsement of Trump ahead of the 2020 election

President Donald Trump Jack Nicklaus
President Donald Trump Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus and Donald Trump at the unveiling of the Jack Nicklaus Villa at Trump Doral at Trump National Doral on February 20, 2015 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by Manny Hernandez/Getty Images)

“I never got any blowback, and I’m sure I had a ton of it,” he said. “But I don’t pay attention to that stuff. I didn’t see any of it.” Nicklaus said that Trump had Vice President Mike Pence make the ask. Pence “said the president knows you’ll do it, but he didn’t feel right about it,” Nicklaus said. “I told him I’d be delighted to write a letter. You have to stand up for what you believe in, and I think he did a really, really good job. Did he do it perfectly? Forget the way he talks, his personality. I thought he backed up what he said he would do.” Trump, he added, “has been a friend for years, I’ve built golf courses for him, and to support him was not difficult. I’ve voted for Republicans and a ton of Democrats, too. I vote for the person and how they do. And I’d write a letter for the right Democrat, too.” Nicklaus also was grateful to Trump, who had Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, help get a provision written into the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the Cares Act) that provided support for free-standing children’s hospitals that initially were not included in the bill. “He went to bat for us,” Nicklaus said. “There were 28 free-standing children’s hospitals, and they got $50 million apiece. They were losing money during COVID, and it really helped. … I couldn’t help but support the guy.”

Tiger: He'll be back

In 2012, Jack Nicklaus, left, talks with Tiger Woods after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. (Tony Dejak, AP)

Count Nicklaus among those who believe Woods will return to play competitive golf again. Woods, who suffered multiple injuries to his leg when he was involved in a single-car accident near Los Angeles, has been in rehabilitation and hasn't issued a timeline to be able to play again. “I know Tiger,” Nicklaus said. “What he did at Torrey Pines [winning the 2008 U.S. Open] on a broken leg, what does that tell you? He’ll still be able to slap it around, and if he can putt, he’ll be all right. I don’t know if he can reach his old level, but I do expect him to play again.”

Nicklaus on the mend from his own injury

US former golfer Jack Nicklaus (R) and his wife Barbara (L) sit in the centre court crowd to watch US player Serena Williams play Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their women's singles quarter-final match on the ninth day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 5, 2016. / AFP / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
US former golfer Jack Nicklaus (R) and his wife Barbara (L) sit in the centre court crowd to watch US player Serena Williams play Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their women's singles quarter-final match on the ninth day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 5, 2016. / AFP / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Nicklaus (R) and his wife Barbara (L) sit in the centre court at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club. (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Nicklaus, who played so much tennis that he had a grass court in his backyard, had to give up the game two years ago due to a shoulder injury. But he picked up pickleball at the advice of a friend, who said it wouldn't bother his shoulder. “I tried to reach down to hit a ball, and the gritty surface caught my shoes and I went down, whacked both my knees, my elbows and my left hip,” he said. “The doctor said everything was in place, no broken bones. He said two to six weeks [to recover], and it’s been five. “I was in a wheelchair for a week, then crutches, then a walker and now a cane. My balance hasn’t been good for a while; I use the cane so I won’t fall on my face. But not for much longer.” Hopefully, he'll back on the golf course before too long. He claims he's played just twice this year, nine holes this month on vacation in northern Michigan, where he posted a score of 41. He also played Pebble Beach last month and said he barely broke 100. “I can hit the ball 180 yards,” he said. “It’s just too long for me.”

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