Jack Nicklaus to become honorary citizen of St. Andrews ahead of British Open

Jack Nicklaus is set to join a small, elite group of American citizens this week.

Nicklaus will officially become an honorary citizen of St. Andrews, Scotland, on Tuesday ahead of the 150th playing of the British Open this week. Nicklaus is just the third American to earn that honor, joining Benjamin Franklin in 1759 and Bobby Jones in 1958.

“When I got the invitation this time to be an honorary citizen of St Andrews and to follow Bobby Jones and Benjamin Franklin, I've got to come back,” Nicklaus said Monday. “So to be back is fantastic. We brought the weather with us, in case you didn't notice that. But this is about the same weather we had in 2005 when we played. It was beautiful.

”Anyway, it's great to be back. We're back actually at the same hotel room I was in, [my wife] Barbara and I stayed in every time we've been at St Andrews. And we're looking forward to a great couple days.”

Nicklaus won the British Open three times in his playing career, including twice at the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1970 and 1978. He played his final major at the course in 2005, too.

"I always said St. Andrews looked like an old gray town until the Open came around," Nicklaus said. "All of a sudden, it just lit up like a light, and it was beautiful. And St. Andrews the week of the Open Championship is always beautiful. I imagine actually probably from anybody who makes a pilgrimage here to play this golf course feels that way."

Nicklaus won 73 times throughout his PGA Tour career and won 18 major championships. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Nicklaus, 82, was granted the honorary citizenship by the Royal Burgh of St. Andrews Community Council.

“I think that's pretty special. That's why I'm back, obviously,” Nicklaus said. “There's a lot of reasons to be back, 150th anniversary and a lot of other reasons in the tournament, the whole thing. But this is why I'm back because of that. I wouldn't be back for any other reason.

“But that's pretty special. There's only two Americans that have ever been honored. I think I'd have to think that's something pretty special, very flattered by that. I thought that was very — I'm sure it will be a humbling experience tomorrow.”

Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus at the British Open
Jack Nicklaus, seen here with Tiger Woods on Monday, will be the third American to become an honorary citizen of St. Andrews. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

What about Greg Norman and LIV Golf?

Nicklaus was also asked about the LIV Golf Invitational Series and its CEO Greg Norman on Monday.

Norman, who also had a tremendous playing career, was not invited by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club to the British Open this year due to his ties with the controversial Saudi Arabian-backed golf venture. Norman won the British Open twice, first in 1986 and again in 1993.

Norman called the R&A’s decision “petty.”

"I would have thought the R&A would have stayed above it all given their position in world golf,” Norman said. “(It’s) petty, as all I have done is promote and grow the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades.”

Nicklaus, who said he turned down more than $100 million to help lead the LIV Golf series, said he wasn’t really aware of the decision to not invite Norman this week — and that he didn’t really want to get involved.

“Let me just sum this up with a couple of words. First of all, Greg Norman is an icon in the game of golf,” Nicklaus said. “He's a great player. We've been friends for a long time, and regardless of what happens, he's going to remain a friend.

“Unfortunately, he and I just don't see eye to eye in what's going on. I'll basically leave it at that.”