Nicklaus tries to clarify comments about blacks

August 10, 1994|By Don Markus

TULSA, Okla. -- Jack Nicklaus, whose recent comments to a British Columbia newspaper about the lack of black players in professional golf drew criticism from Sports Illustrated and from blacks in the sport, tried to clarify his remarks yesterday.

In a two-paragraph statement released through his publicists, Nicklaus said, "I would like to personally clarify an issue which has unfortunately been misinterpreted by some of you. Despite confusion over my initial comments and the resulting publicity, let me make clear the position and feelings: I have never knowingly or willingly made a statement or action that is racist.

"God created all of us equally. We are then influenced by our environment. That is all I have said. If confusion regarding my feeling has caused any offense, I hope my clarification here will remind everyone of my personal convictions, which are as strong today as they have been throughout my life."

After a practice round at Southern Hills Country Club for the 76th PGA Championship, Nicklaus declined to comment further. The controversy began when Nicklaus was quoted by a newspaper in Vancouver saying, "Blacks have different muscles that react in different ways."

Nicklaus later told Sports Illustrated that the remark was taken out of context, but then said that black kids have as much opportunity to play golf as white kids have to play basketball.

The magazine took Nicklaus to task for his comments, saying that they bordered on remarks made by oddsmaker Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder several years ago.

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