Jack Nicklaus confirms he and wife, Barbara, battled coronavirus in March
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Jack Nicklaus confirms he and wife, Barbara, battled coronavirus in March

Jack Nicklaus confirmed Sunday that he and his wife, Barbara, successfully battled coronavirus back in March.

Speaking on the delayed Sunday telecast of the 2020 Memorial Tournament, the 18-time major winner said he had flu-like symptoms, which his wife was asymptomatic.

"Back in mid-March, Barb and I both contracted coronavirus," Nicklaus said to Jim Nantz on the CBS telecast.

"I had a sore throat and a cough and it didn't last very long, and we were very, very fortunate. We were very lucky. Barbara and I are of the both of the age, both of us 80 years old, that it's an at-risk age. Our hearts go out to the people that did lose their lives and the families, and we were just a couple of the lucky ones."

The couple stayed home from March 13 to April 20, with the couple testing a combined seven times. Nicklaus said they developed antibodies. This is why Nicklaus said at the outset of the week that he would be willing to shake hands with the winner of this year's Memorial Tournament, which he hosts at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio.

"I'm going to shake their hand," he said. "I going to walk right out there and shake your hand. 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. 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."

There are issues with antibody tests, and they may return incorrect results to as many as half of those tested, according to various scientific journals. Those infected with the coronavirus may also not have antibody protection for longer than several weeks, as studies suggest a small percentage of those who survive develop a robust antibody response.

It also appears possible for coronavirus patients to either be infected multiple times or show signs of improvement without the coronavirus fully leaving their body.

Nicklaus has been raising money for COVID-19-related charities throughout the pandemic, donating money and time and memorabilia to various causes with the hopes of helping front-line workers, as well those who have contracted the illness. Throughout the course of his career, pediatric charities have been a key focus for the Nicklaus family.

Nicklaus has been keeping his and his wife's battle private for months, though Nicklaus has alluded to it vaguely several times. Jack Nicklaus II told associates with the Nicklaus Companies, but the 73-time PGA Tour winner did not go public until Sunday.

Nine-time major winner Gary Player mentioned the Nicklaus' ordeal on the May 14 edition of the "TeeTalk" podcast, saying the couple had been treated with hydroxychloroquine.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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