[PHOTO: Tracy Wilcox]

Jack Nicklaus has 18 majors and 73 PGA Tour titles to go along with a pair of US Amateur wins on what is arguably the most impressive résumé in golf history. But there’s one USGA tournament he never conquered. And the Golden Bear seems well aware of that fact well into his golden years.

Nicklaus held his traditional press conference ahead of the Memorial Tournament and was asked about a wide variety of topics, including his event’s unusual placement on the PGA Tour calendar this year. But when he was asked about US Open setups, in particular last year’s at Los Angeles Country Club, ahead of next week’s major at Pinehurst, the 84-year-old legend impressed reporters with his memory.

“I played it in 1954, the USGA Juniors. I was 14 years old,” Nicklaus recalled. “And my memory of LA Country Club was that was Byron Nelson giving a clinic. And they had just replaced the irrigation system and the caddie that was [collecting] the balls for Byron would start walking backwards and he never took a step off the irrigation system all the way back. That’s what I remember about LA Country Club. I got beaten in the second round, I think. Hugh Royer Jnr beat me there.”

Beaten in the second round of the 1954 US Junior by Hugh Royer Jnr at LACC. Of course, Jack’s right. What a recall from 70(!) years ago.

Hey, sometimes your most painful losses – the US Junior is the only USGA event Nicklaus was qualified for that he never won at least once – are even more memorable. Tiger Woods remembered the last match he lost in a US Junior, “Dennis Hillman from Rye, New York,” when asked about it a few years ago.

But again, Jack is talking about something from seven decades ago. Talk about being sharp. It led to this funny exchange:

Q. This is just on my mind, but you’ve played a lot of golf in your career. How in the world can you remember losing to Hugh Royer at age 14 at the US Junior?

JACK NICKLAUS: I didn’t want to tell you, I think it was 5&3 [laughing].

Q. That’s all I had.

JACK NICKLAUS: I don’t remember whether that was right or not, but, you know, who cares. But, you know, if I throw out a number you say, ‘Man, what a memory.’ Whether it’s truth or not, who knows.

Great point, Jack. But something tells us you’ve got that score right as well.