Nicklaus ready to enter new territory, on ice

Wed Oct 2, 2013 6:53am EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - Golfing great Jack Nicklaus was a master of his environment out on the course but he will enter very foreign territory when he drops the puck to start a National Hockey League (NHL) game in Columbus on Friday.

Nicklaus, whose Muirfield Village Golf Club is hosting this week's Presidents Cup between the U.S. and the Internationals, has been invited to perform puck duty for the Blue Jackets' season-opener against the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena.

"First of all, I've never seen a puck dropped. I've never heard the phrase until about two weeks ago," a smiling Nicklaus told reporters at Muirfield Village on Tuesday, sparking widespread laughter in the interview room.

"I don't know how far you drop it from. I don't know what you're supposed to hit and who you're not supposed to hurt. So I'll find out on Friday night. I don't even know who the Blue Jackets are playing. Who do they play?"

Told that the Blue Jackets would be launching their NHL campaign against the Flames, Nicklaus replied: "Calgary? They play Calgary on Friday night and that's the opening of the season.

"They have asked me to come down and do that and I'm delighted to do so. I need to learn something; I need to broaden my horizons."

Nicklaus, who has clinched a record 18 major titles, went on to explain that he had previously attended only one NHL game.

"I had season tickets for the (Florida) Panthers for about four or five years, never used them one time," said the 73-year-old who lives in North Palm Beach, Florida. "My office used them.   Continued...

Jack Nicklaus of the U.S. (R) is applauded by Arnold Palmer of the U.S. as he is introduced during the ceremonial start for the 2013 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar