This rare honor drew Jack Nicklaus back to St. Andrews for first time in years

Jack Nicklaus competed in his final major championship at the Old Course in 2005.

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Jack Nicklaus already has a resume that dwarfs just about anyone else’s in golf, but this week, he’ll add another distinction to the list: honorary citizen of St. Andrews.

The Royal Burgh of St. Andrews Community Council is hosting a ceremony to commemorate the occasion on Tuesday of Open Championship week.

With the honor, the 82-year-old joins Bobby Jones and Benjamin Franklin as the only other Americans to be granted honorary citizenship in the Auld Grey Toon.

Nicklaus, a three-time Open Championship winner, won two of his Claret Jugs at the Old Course, in 1970 and ’78. He also notched a runner-up finish in 1964.

This week marks the first time Nicklaus has been back to St. Andrews since he competed at the Old Course in his farewell major championship in 2005.

Jack Nicklaus met with the media ahead of the 150th Open Championship.

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“I declined to come back the last couple of times to St. Andrews, because it made my farewell in 2005, and I didn’t want to come back and dilute that for what it was,” Nicklaus said in a Monday press conference. “But when I got the invitation this time to be an honorary citizen of St. Andrews and to follow Bobby Jones and Benjamin Franklin, I’ve got to come back. So to be back is fantastic.”

The honorary citizenship is the fourth distinction the Golden Bear has been granted at the Home of Golf. Nicklaus was previously made an honorary member of St. Andrews Golf Club following his victory in 1978, and he was also granted an honorary doctorate by the University of St. Andrews six years later. He became an honorary member of the Royal and Ancient in 1990.

“There’s a lot of reasons to be back, 150th anniversary and a lot of other reasons in the tournament, the whole thing,” Nicklaus said. “But this is why I’m back because of that. I wouldn’t be back for any other reason.”

During the Tuesday ceremony, the University of St. Andrews will also grant honorary degrees to Lee Trevino, Sandy Lyle, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bob Charles and Catriona Matthew.

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Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.