In 2003, Nicklaus appeared in more official Champions Tour events (nine) than in any other previous season since joining the circuit in 1990. But his schedule didn't include a stop at the Toshiba Senior Classic in Newport Beach.
That will change this year.
Considered by some to be the greatest golfer of all time, Nicklaus, who is second only to Sam Snead (81) with 70 career PGA Tour victories, will make his debut next week in Newport Beach.
This year he has already played in two Champions Tour events, finishing sixth in the season-opening MasterCard Championship, where he averaged 67 for three rounds.
His third stop will officially begin when he tees it up in the first round of the 10th Toshiba Senior Classic next Friday.
Though it wasn't announced until Monday, Nicklaus pondered competing in Newport Beach for some time.
"I have had the Toshiba Senior Classic on my radar screen, if you will, since the beginning of the year when I sat down and first looked at my schedule," Nicklaus said. "I liked its place in the schedule and was hoping it would work out that I could play there. I wanted to play in a tournament before Augusta to get a feel for whether or not I am going to play the Masters, so the timing of Toshiba is ideal."
Nicklaus, 64, winner of a record 18 major championships on the PGA Tour, won the Senior PGA Tour portion of the now-defunct Hyundai Team matches with partner Tom Watson at Pelican Hill Golf Club in 1999 and 2000, the only other time the "Golden Bear" has played in an official PGA or senior tour event in Newport-Mesa.
Nicklaus, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, has won 10 times on the senior tour, the last two victories coming in 1996 at the Tradition and GTE Suncoast Classic. Health problems that included persistent lower back pain and hip replacement surgery in 1999 limited Nicklaus' tournament schedule, but those maladies seem to be part of the past.
His best finish in a senior tour event last season was a tie for seventh at the Kinko's Classic May 8-11.
The North Palm Beach, Fla., resident is eager to share next week with wife Barbara.
"I've heard that Newport Beach Country Club is a good golf course and that the tournament is well run and well supported by the community," Nicklaus said. "I've never played Toshiba and I've wanted to do so; now, I have that opportunity. Newport Beach is a beautiful area and Barbara and I are looking forward to getting there."