Tuesday, February 02, 1999

Nicklaus mulls Open with new hip

The Associated Press

        BOSTON — Jack Nicklaus, 59, has set his priorities in his recovery from hip replacement surgery: The Masters is out, the U.S. Open is a maybe, his son's wedding is a must.

        “My wife told me the one thing I'm going to do is dance at my son's wedding,” he said as he checked out of New England Baptist Hospital on crutches Monday. “I'm going to do nothing for six weeks.”

        But the golf great does intend to be in shape for the Feb. 20 marriage of his youngest son, Michael.

        Nicklaus will be on crutches for six weeks, and doctors want him to get plenty of rest before beginning rehabilitation. “Postoperative recovery to date has been right on track,” said Dr. Benjamin Bierbaum, who operated on Nicklaus Wednesday.

        Nicklaus will miss the Masters in April for the first time in 40 years and possibly the U.S. Open in June. However, he should be able to play competitively again.

        “I don't have any illusions, at the age of 59 or 60, of coming back and competing with the Tiger Woodses and David Duvals,” Nicklaus said.

        Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 pro majors, had a degenerative left hip for years. He tried to avoid a hip replacement with a rigorous exercise routine, but finally yielded when the hip began to affect his quality of life as well as his game.

        Bierbaum, head of orthopedic surgery at the hospital, said Nicklaus will be on crutches so the bone and soft tissue can heal. After that, he will go through a rehabilitation program that could take at least six more weeks.

        For now, Nicklaus is just plain tired. “It wears me out to shower and shave,” he said.


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