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Tour’s COVID rules won’t stop Jack Nicklaus: ‘I’m going to shake [winner’s] hand’


DUBLIN, Ohio – It’s a decades-old tradition: Jack Nicklaus around Muirfield Village’s 18th green, extending a hand to congratulate the winner of his Memorial Tournament.

But there may need to be a new twist this year, in the age of social distancing.

Deep in the PGA Tour’s health and safety plan, under the “General Etiquette and Behavior Expectations” tab, players should “always adhere to recommended social distancing guidelines” and there is to be “no shaking hands and contact of any kind (fist bumps/high fives).” In the wake of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s address a few weeks ago at the Travelers, players seemed to have followed these regulations more closely, instead giving air high-fives at the end of a round rather than the customary handshake.

As host, Nicklaus is inside the Tour’s “bubble” this week – meaning he’s tested negative for COVID-19 – so he was asked what he’s planning to do on the 18th hole Sunday.

“I’m going to shake their hand,” he said. “I’m going to walk right out there and shake their 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 want to put anybody in that position. I wouldn’t do that, and if I was in danger of doing that, I wouldn’t shake the hands. Incidentally, I like shaking their hand, too. I think it’s a great tradition, but it’s as much fun for me as I hope it is for them.”