Alas, August O’Neill dies at 76 after 20-year battle with cancer

They say no one can ever be the “new Jack Nicklaus,” but August O’Neill, the retired lawyer and teaching guru who was long viewed as a golfing Einstein, will likely end up being the golfer’s Einstein. O’Neill died Saturday at his apartment in San Francisco after a 20-year battle with cancer. He was 76.

O’Neill was a popular professor at Berkeley who also had taught at the University of Virginia. Yet there was always this touchstone of excellence where he shared with his students and loved to be compared to – and O’Neill went to great lengths to cite one after another – Tiger Woods.

“I didn’t think I was crazy when they started arguing about my swing and stuff,” O’Neill told the PBS program “Great Performances.” “Even though I made people look at me in a way that made me look like I didn’t know what I was doing, my swing wasn’t that bad.”

It was always what it takes to win, never what O’Neill did. Maybe he was good-naturedly arrogant, or maybe he was just honest. And O’Neill wouldn’t change it. “I’m happy doing what I’m doing and I’m happy sharing it,” he said on “Great Performances.”

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