The Memorial Tournament, started in 1977 by Columbus native and golf legend Jack Nicklaus, has been plagued by the kind bad weather that happens around Memorial Day, when rain can dampen the course but not the spirit and enthusiasm golf fans feel when they watch the best players of the day hit their drives and make their putts, on the always well-tended course that Jack built.
With a blue, sunny sky with only a few clouds to fret about, Ohio Gov. John Kasich seized on the good weather, joking that since he’s been governor—since 2011—tournament weather has been good the past two years. “I’m just saying,” he said, about the good day.
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And a good day it was, especially for 70-year old Raymond Floyd, father of three, whose history of wins includes four major championships and 22 PGA Tour titles.
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In ceremonies held on the driving range of the 7,352-yard course Jack Nicklaus has tweaked, change and added to over the years, Floyd became the latest player to have a bronze plaque in his name added to the list of 54 other honorees whose plaques are displayed in a park-like setting near the first tee.
There were plenty of golf stories recounted, but for Floyd, the greatest story of his life was his life with his beloved wife Maria, who died last year.
“I would not be here without her,” he said.
It was his Maria’s cancer, he said, that lead to accepting the honor when Nicklaus first made the overture to him a year ago.
“I never knew I was this good,” Floyd said, full of emotion. “I’m humbled to be in such company.”
Floyd will join previous Memorial Tournament honorees like Tom Watson, who was seated behind Floyd today, Nancy Lopez, Seve Ballesteros, JoAnne Carner, Lee Trevino, Payne Stewart, Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus, the AP reported.
Nicklaus said what he remembered most about Raymond Floyd was that “When he got in contention, generally speaking, he won.” Nicklaus, whose wife Barbara and two sons Scott and Steve were seated underneath a canopy with the other dignitaries, said he and Floyd probably like the competition more than they liked golf itself.
Gov. Kasich, who is running for a second term next year, talked about how the Memorial Tournament has helped put Dublin, Columbus and Ohio “on the map” and how it will do so again this fall when the President’s Cup tournament comes to Muirfield.
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