In a surprise announcement during CBS’s broadcast of the final round of the Memorial Tournament Sunday, 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus revealed he and his wife Barbara tested positive for Covid-19 in mid-March.
Nicklaus, who is 80 years old, revealed he suffered from a sore throat and cough, while his wife Barbara, who is the same age, was asymptomatic.
“Back in mid-March, Barbara and I both contracted coronavirus,” Nicklaus told Jim Nantz in an on-camera interview. “Barbara was asymptomatic and I had a sore throat and a cough. It didn’t last very long and we were very, very fortunate. Barbara and I are both of the age, both of us 80 years old, that is an at-risk age.”
Nicklaus said he tested positive on March 13, the same day the PGA Tour postponed the season due to the spread of the disease.
“We were home from the 13th of March and we were done with it by about the 20th of April,” he said. “We stayed at home for the next month to make sure we were well.”
The 18-time major champion said he tested positive four times for the virus, while Barbara tested positive three times.
“Our hearts go out to those who did lose their lives and their families,” Nicklaus said. “We were just a couple of the lucky ones.”
In the time since his recovery from the virus in April, Nicklaus has established a charitable campaign aimed at providing personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers.
To that end, the “Wear The Bear. Show You Care” campaign has raised more than $250,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Covid-19 relief fund, with the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation matching every donation dollar-for-dollar.
“The workers are the people who are sacrificing their lives every day,” he said. “We feel very strong about trying to work with the people that are working with and are taking care of those that have Covid-19.”
Earlier this week, Nicklaus raised eyebrows when he said he’d shake hands with the eventual winner of this week’s Memorial Tournament. In his interview with CBS, Nicklaus walked back his initial statement, but noted he’d tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies as recently as this week (which scientists believe may provide some form of protective immunity from the disease). Ultimately, Nicklaus said, he’d still be open to shaking hands with the eventual winner.
“They asked me if I was going to shake hands on the 18th green with the winner,” he said. “If the winner wants to shake hands that’s fine, but I wouldn’t want to put them in that position.”
Those who wish to donate to Nicklaus’ “Wear The Bear. Show You Care” campaign can do by purchasing a hat ($100) or making a custom donation HERE.