Jack Nicklaus says handshakes will continue this week at the Memorial Tournament
Jack Nicklaus has confirmed that the traditional handshake with the winner of the Memorial Tournament will continue this week, despite concerns around coronavirus.
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The 18-time major winner is typically stood behind the 18th green during the final round at Muirfield Village to congratulate the champion, with Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau the two most recent winners of the event.
Although the PGA Tour’s health and safety plan currently prohibits shaking hands and encourages everyone at the course to follow social distancing guidelines, Nicklaus believes the tradition can continue.
Nicklaus was tested for coronavirus as part of the tournament “bubble”
When asked how he will congratulate this year’s champion, Nicklaus said: “I’m going to shake their hand. I’m going to walk right out there and shake their hand.
“If they don’t want to shake my hand, that’s fine. I’ll give them a fist bump or an elbow bump, but I’m not going to give them COVID-19. I wouldn’t want to put anybody in that position.
“I wouldn’t do that, and if I was in danger of doing that, I wouldn’t shake the hands. Incidentally, I like shaking their hand, too. I think it’s a great tradition, but it’s as much fun for me as I hope it is for them.”
This year’s contest was set to be the first event since the PGA Tour’s restart to allow a limited number of spectators, only for those plans to be abandoned ‘out of an abundance of caution’ to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
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“I think that the Tour probably made the right decision as it relates to the Memorial Tournament,” Nicklaus added. “Maybe we are a little too early for the galleries. We didn’t have a problem with it.
“You can’t have a dance without the dancing girls, and so you just – and I can understand where some might be very hesitant. We’re probably doing the right thing right now, and we’re going to have a good tournament either way.”
Watch the Memorial Tournament throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins with Featured Groups on Thursday from 12.15pm on Sky Sports Golf.