Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus has had to cancel his European trip and pull out of Monday’s Christy O'Connor Junior Celeb-Am in aid of Galway Hospice at Galway Bay Golf Resort.
But according to O’Connor Jnr—who will still raise $200,000 for the hospice with sports stars such as jockeys AP McCoy and Mick Kinane and rugby legend Keith Wood set to tee it up—the good news is that the Golden Bear has promised to keep his promise and play in the autumn instead.
The planned $300,000 that three businessman had promised O’Connor Jnr for the privilege of teeing it up with the 18-time major winner will go to charity eventually.
“Jack has said he will honour his commitment to play with the three boys in September,” O’Connor Jnr said. “He called me personally and wrote a lovely letter which I will be putting up on the board here in Galway Bay.
“We will go ahead on Monday— it’s a sell out — and the main thing is that we will raise money for Galway Hospice and everyone is happy we will get a second bite of the cherry in September.
“It was a huge thing to get him because the Ryder Cup team, the captain Paul McGinley and the assistants like Des Smyth are all invited to the Royal Box in Wimbledon on Monday and weren’t available.
“I was initially disappointed but now that we know we will have a second go now and we are all happy. The main thing is Galway Hospice and raising money for them."
Scott Tolley, Vice President of Corporate Communications for the Nicklaus organisation confirmed that Nicklaus’ commitments changed and he no longer had business to get him to the UK and Europe, “which would allow him to weave in a stop in Ireland and the event for Mr. O’Connor."
O'Connor Jnr explained: “Jack called me personally to apologise. He was lovely on the phone said he had to cancel his European trip and couldn't come across the Atlantic for just one day. So we are looking forward to seeing him on whatever date suits him in September.
“The three boys who had promised the money to play with Jack are still coming to play and they are coming back, of course, in September and we will be able to increase the money we raise for Galway Hospice.”
O’Connor Jnr’s relationship with Nicklaus goes back to 1970, when they played the first two rounds together at St Andrews in the Open Championship.
“Jack won that week, and I also played with him when he won the Open in 1978, so he reckons I'm a lucky talisman for him,” O’Connor Jnr said.
The American legend is still determined to give old pal Junior his time and help the Galway Hospice.
His spokesman explained that while there is no precise timeline for a rescheduled visit "to help Mr. O’Connor and this tremendous event”, the Golden Bear, who was unavailable for comment, had mentioned a “September-ish” date.