HARTFORD, Conn – Barbara Nicklaus, one of the game’s most successful ambassadors and admired advocates for the healthcare of future generations in addition to being the wife of the greatest champion in golf history, has been named recipient of the 2019 PGA of America Distinguished Service Award.
Nicklaus, 79, will be honored Nov. 5 at the PGA of America’s 103rd annual meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla. Since 1988, the PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.
Nicklaus, the inaugural PGA First Lady of Golf in 1998, and Jack are the second husband-wife duo to have earned the Distinguished Service Award. Jack was a recipient in 2000, while Mark and Debi Rolfing were jointly honored in 2017.
“Barbara Nicklaus exemplifies what the words ‘giving back’ truly mean,” said former longtime Connecticut resident Suzy Whaley, the first female president of the PGA of America. “From the platform of golf, her unlimited energy and passion for serving as a philanthropist has offered hope and a pathway to vital healthcare for countless children. We are extremely proud to present Barbara with the PGA Distinguished Service Award as she joins her husband, Jack, among those honored for an amazing commitment to elevating society and humanity.”
Barbara is the chair and co-founder of Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which was established in 2004 to support numerous pediatric healthcare services in South Florida and across the United States. As chair of the Foundation, Barbara has been the catalyst to raising more than $100 million in nearly 15 years.
“To say that I was speechless when Suzy Whaley called to inform me that I was to receive this award would be an understatement,” Nicklaus said. “When I took a minute to think about the award, I realized that I have a huge passion for a short four-letter word – GOLF – and that golf has been a very important part of my life for almost 60 years. It has opened so many doors to allow me to attempt to ‘give back’ to the game that Jack loved when I met him and to the game that I now love, cherish and support unconditionally.
“Golf has made so many things possible. Jack and I could never give back as much as we have been blessed to receive from this amazing game. The PGA of America has been and is the ‘heart and soul’ of the game of golf. I am so honored, so touched and so very proud to receive this phenomenal award.”
In March 2015, the Nicklauses’ support of children’s hospitals was recognized when globally renowned Miami Children’s Hospital was rebranded as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. In November 2017, the entire Miami Children’s Health System was renamed as Nicklaus Children’s Health System, which now features 15 outpatient centers from Miami north to Vero Beach and west to Naples.
While her husband went on to a legendary golf career, Barbara became the mother of five children, one of the most respected wives on the PGA TOUR and a beacon for fundraising for numerous charitable organizations.
Among the Nicklauses’ favorite charities is Nationwide Children’s Hospital. When it was known as Columbus Children’s Hospital, the facility provided the emergency care to nurse their only daughter, Nan, who contracted pneumonia before her first birthday after accidentally inhaling a portion of a crayon, which lodged in her windpipe. Today, Nan is married and the mother of five children, including NFL standout and Florida State All-American Nick O’Leary.
The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, founded in 1976 and hosted by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, has benefitted Nationwide Children’s Hospital since its inaugural year. The Memorial has raised more than $36 million for Central Ohio charities, including over $20 million to support the programs and services at Nationwide Children’s.
Barbara and Jack Nicklaus live in North Palm Beach, Florida. They are the parents of five children — Jack II, Steve, Nan, Gary and Michael — and have 22 grandchildren.
JERRY KELLY’S BANNER YEAR CONTINUES
University of Hartford grad Jerry Kelly made a run at his second consecutive PGA Tour Champions title and third of the year on Sunday before falling short to fast-closing Rocco Mediate.
Kelly shot a bogey-free, 2-under-par 69 for a 72-hole total of 5-under 205 in the Sanford International at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, N.D., but finished four strokes behind Mediate, who birdied four of the last seven holes for 64, which tied the low round of the tournament.
Kelly tied for seventh after winning The Ally Challenge last week in Grand Blanc, Mich. It was the 11th Top-7 finish in 20 starts this year for Kelly, who earlier won the American Family Insurance Championship in his native Madison, Wisc., finished second in the Regions Tradition, tied for second in the U.S. Senior Open Championship and Mitsubisha Electric Classic, finished third in the Principal Charity Classic, shared third in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and Boeing Classic, finished fifth in the KitchenAir Senior PGA and tied for seventh in the Insperity Invitational and Mastercard Japan Championship.
Kelly, who has five victories this year, solidified second place on the money list and in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. He also won the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii and Advil Western Open in 2002 and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2009 and finished second by a shot to Russell Knox in the 2016 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.
Glastonbury native Tim Petrovic started the day tied with his former University of Hartford teammate three shots behind 2013 Travelers Championship winner Ken Duke. They played together in the third-to-last group and both remained in the hunt until Petrovic went double bogey-bogey-bogey on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes on the way to 74 and a tie for 35th at 211.
Mediate, 56, a longtime favorite at the PGA Tour stop in Connecticut when followed by “Rocco’s Army,” birdied the 12th, 14th, 17th and 18th holes for 201, two less than Duke (69), Bob Estes (67) and Colin Montgomerie (67). It was Mediate’s fourth PGA Tour Champions title, the first since the 2016 Senior PGA Championship. He also won six times on the PGA Tour and lost on the first sudden-death playoff hole in the 2008 U.S. Open to Tiger Woods, who made a 14-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to get to an 18-hole playoff that ended in a tie.
Woody Austin, the 2004 Buick (now Travelers) Championship winner who finished second to Kelly last week, tied for seventh, and 1988 Canon Greater Hartford Open titlist Mark Brooks had 68 for 211 and a tie for 35th.