This is the 45th year of the Memorial Tournament, and host Jack Nicklaus has made a tradition of waiting behind the 18th green to congratulate the winner with a hearty handshake.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Nicklaus said Tuesday that he will not be changing anything.
“I’m going to shake their hand. I going to walk right out there and shake your hand,” Nicklaus said during a virtual news conference at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. “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.”
He was not asked about his own vulnerability to the virus.
Nicklaus, 80, won the Memorial twice among his 73 PGA Tour victories. He designed the course and founded the tournament, which began in 1976.
Because he is part of the tour personnel on site, Nicklaus was required to take a COVID-19 test.
In March, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Nicklaus issued a public service announcement via social media in which he asked those watching to take precautions.
“Many of you kids, you’re going to a lot of places that may bring that home to a senior citizen. I don’t think that’s what you want to do,” Nicklaus said. “Let’s all make sure we wash our hands. Let’s make sure we’re very smart about where we go, and when we go, let’s try to stay away from public places. Let’s just be smart. Americans have always been smart, and Americans have always gotten through these things, and we’ll get through this one.”