Playing competitive golf at any level comes with its fair share of pressure. Doing it at the professional level brings with it even more pressure. Playing golf professionally and having the last name Nicklaus? Well, that brings with it a level of pressure that few can understand.
Gary Nicklaus knew going into this week that there would be some extra eyes on him. He wasn’t just another rookie making his debut on the PGA Tour Champions on a sponsor’s invite. He proved to be up to the task and then some on Friday though, firing an opening round 5-under 67 at the Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, FL.
“I think there has been a lot of anticipation from myself to get this thing started,” Nicklaus said.
With a gallery that included his dad, Jack, and his mother, Barbara, Gary appearead to feel right at home on the golf course.
“It was fun to see him smile,” Barbara said in an interview with the Golf Channel. “It’s fun to see him having fun. When he started out on the regular Tour I don’t think he was quite ready.”
If there were still any questions about whether or not he was ready, those questions were answered pretty quickly.
After what he described as a shaky start at the first, he made four consecutive birdies on holes three through six on his way to a front 9 32 and the early early lead. While he cooled off on the back 9, he still managed to shoot a 35 that included two birdies and a bogey.
“I got that first [birdie] on three and then follwed it up with a long putt on four,” Nicklaus said when asked about his putting on the day. “From there, if I’d have made a lot of putts coming in after those four in a row I could of made 8 or 9 or even 10 birdies. I had a lot of chances.”
While his 5-under round puts him 4 shots off the pace set by Jesper Parnevik, Nicklaus has himself squarely in contention, where he will look to chop away at that lead and hoepfully hole some more putts.
“Hopefully I can go out and get off to a good start [tomorrow],” Nicklaus said. “Get off to a good start, hit some good shots, knock some putts in, and keep the momentum going.”
Photo courtesy of Scott Halleran