Jack Nicklaus reveals that he and wife Barbara had COVID in March
In a moment of weather-forced downtime at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday, tournament host Jack Nicklaus revealed in a conversation with Jim Nantz on the CBS broadcast that both he and wife Barbara Nicklaus had contracted COVID-19 earlier in the spring. Jack, who said he suffered from a cough and sore throat, tested positive four times while Barbara, who was asymptomatic, had three positive tests.
The Nicklauses tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13 and stayed in their southern Florida home until April 20. As of Sunday, both had taken antibody tests that showed they had the antibodies.
“Theoretically we can’t get it and can’t give it, and that’s a nice position to be in,” Nicklaus said during the broadcast on Sunday.
The World Health Organization, however, posts on its website that “there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
There have been 3,748,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and at least 140,000 confirmed deaths in the U.S., according to USA TODAY as of Sunday. In Ohio, there have been 73,821 confirmed cases and 3,132 confirmed deaths.
Nicklaus had not publicly discussed his bout with COVID-19 until Sunday. He acknowledged that he and Barbara were grateful for being some of “the lucky ones” who recovered.
As Nicklaus noted, both he and Barbara – who celebrated their 80th birthdays a month apart in January and February – are in the risk category for suffering complications from COVID-19.
Tiger Woods, whose 15 career wins in major championships are second to Nicklaus’ 18, said he had been aware that the Golden Bear and his wife had COVID-19.
“The fact that they got through it and they’re safe and here and healthy, it’s all good news for all of us who are a part of golf and who looked up to Jack and been around Barbara all these years,” Woods said. “The fact that they’re healthy is nothing but positives.”
Earlier in the week, Nicklaus had said he would shake the winner’s hand during the trophy presentation, and the revelation that he has the antibodies sheds some light on his thinking regarding that decision.
“I’m not going to give them COVID-19,” he had said, though he’ll still let the winner decide for himself whether he wants to interact.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Rob Oller contributed reporting.