The Pope met with his Cardinals to discuss a proposal from Ariel Sharon, the leader of Israel.
“Your Holiness,” said one of his Cardinals, “Mr. Sharon wants to challenge you to a game of golf to show the friendship and ecumenical spirit shared by the Jewish and Catholic faiths.”
The Pope thought this was a good idea, but he had never held a golf club in his hand. “Don’t we have a Cardinal to represent me?” he asked.
“None that plays very well,” a Cardinal replied. “But,” he added, “there is a man named Jack Nicklaus, an American golfer who is a devout Catholic. We can offer to make him a Cardinal, then ask him to play Mr. Sharon as your personal representative. In addition, to showing our spirit of cooperation, we’ll also win the match.”
Everyone agreed it was a good idea. The call was made. Of course, Nicklaus was honored and agreed to play.
The day after the match, Nicklaus reported to the Vatican. “I have some good news and some bad news, your Holiness,” said the golfer.
“Tell me the good news first, Cardinal Nicklaus,” said the Pope.
“Well, your Holiness, I don’t like to brag, but even though I’ve played some pretty terrific rounds of golf in my life, this was by far the best I have ever played. I must’ve been inspired from above. My drives were long and true, my irons were accurate and purposeful, and my putting was perfect. With all due respect, my play was truly miraculous.
“There’s bad news?” the Pope asked.
“Yes,” Nicklaus sighed. “I lost to Rabbi Tiger Woods by three strokes.”