Helen Nicklaus passes away

Helen Nicklaus, Jack's mother, dies aged 90 yesterday but the 18-times major winner respects her wish for him to play this week

Thu, 17 Aug 2000
Helen Nicklaus passes away

Last Monday, Helen Nicklaus told her son Jack that she was ready to die after a long illness and the 18-time major champion Jack knew that sometime this week, he would hear the news that his mother passed away.

He heard on the fourth hole of Valhalla yesterday and immediately walked back to the clubhouse to compose himself and gather his thoughts.

Helen Nicklaus, who would have been 91 on Monday, passed away yesterday but she has one wish that she hoped her son would carry out…to play in the US PGA Championship and make sure her death would not interfere with a big moment in her son's career.

Nicklaus said yesterday he would respect his mother's wishes and play in the PGA Championship, the final major in the final season he plans to play all four of golf's major tournaments.

Nicklaus said: "Her greatest fear in the last year or so was that she would pass away during one of golf's major events. I know her wish would be for me to stay here and play. I certainly would not want to not fulfil her last wishes, so I have decided to remain here and play in the PGA Championship."

After issuing a planned press conference, Nicklaus sent word to the media centre via Jim Awtrey, Executive director of the PGA of America.

Nicklaus said in his statement that he planned to fly to Columbus, Ohio, after Thursday's round to be with family members, and return to Louisville before his Friday afternoon round. Nicklaus visited his mother in Columbus on Monday, and she told him that she was prepared for death.
"Given what she had been through, he felt that that was a blessing," Awtrey said.

His mother's death came as Nicklaus was preparing for his last PGA Championship, on a course he designed. And possibly his last major Championship.