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Nicklaus says partial farewell

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ANDREWS, Scotland -- First, it was Arnold Palmer on Friday morning walking his final 18 holes in a British Open, over the hallowed soil of the Old Course at St. Andrews, where he revived this championship 35 years ago. Yesterday, it was time for Jack Nicklaus to follow suit, as he said a partial farewell to the tournament he's competed in since 1962.

He rolled in a 5-foot putt on the 18th hole for a birdie and a 71296 valedictory that included a woeful 10 on the 14th hole in Thursday's opening round. What soon could follow is the first blip on the screen in his major championship progression. Nicklaus, 55, has played in every Masters since 1959, in every U.S. Open since 1957 and in every PGA Championship since 1962.

"I think I've played my last regular [British] Open," said Nicklaus. "When I say regular, I mean in a row." The streak of consecutive appearances in the game's four majors could end at next year's U.S. Open, for which Nicklaus needs a special invitation from the U.S. Golf Association. Should the exemption be granted, as one would expect, the streak could come to an end at next year's British.

"The plans are not to come back [to the British] next year, but that's not to say I won't," he said. "I've enjoyed it. I've had some wonderful times. Shooting under par the last day at St. Andrews is something special to me.

"I'm looking forward to probably coming back in 2000. By then I'm sure it will be more like Arnold's visit. It will be more ceremonial than for golf. I think Arnold enjoyed his visit very much, and when I come back I would hope I would enjoy mine, too. I've enjoyed all 34 years."

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