Back at it: Gary Nicklaus competing in U.S. Amateur

By Associated PressAugust 13, 2012, 10:42 pm

AURORA, Colo. – After missing the 1990 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills because of a heart ailment, Gary Nicklaus, the son of the legendary golfer, was back Monday in Colorado as a 43-year-old competing with 311 other golfers in this year's edition of the Amateur.

A small gallery that included his father and mother, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, watched the younger Nicklaus tee off at the 7,378-yard, par-70 CommonGround Golf Course, which along with Cherry Hills is being used over two days of stroke-play qualifying.

The top 64 finishers will advance to match play, which begins Wednesday and will be played on the 7,409-yard, par-71 course at Cherry Hills Country Club. Any ties will be resolved by a playoff prior to the commencement of match play, which concludes Sunday.

Midway through the first day of qualifying, Bobby Wyatt, 20, of Mobile, Ala., was in the lead after shooting a 7-under 64 at the Cherry Hills course. He'll conclude qualifying play Tuesday on the CommonGround course.

Twenty-two years ago, Gary Nicklaus was an up-and-coming golfer who inspired comparisons to his father, a four-time U.S. Open and two-time U.S. Amateur champion. But Gary Nicklaus fell ill on the eve of the '90 tournament and spent a week in the hospital undergoing treatment for pericarditis or inflammation of the heart.

He turned pro a year later but never managed to duplicate the success he had as an amateur, losing his PGA Tour card nine years ago. The younger Nicklaus, who resides in Jupiter, Fla., gave up pro golf in favor of joining the family's golf course design and apparel business.

He kept playing the game, though, and in 2007 he was reinstated as an amateur. He qualified for this year's Amateur during sectional play in Wellington, Fla.

Wyatt, who plays for the University of Alabama, birdied four of the first five holes en route to his front-running status on the first day of qualifying.

''Hopefully, I can play a good round (Tuesday),'' Wyatt said. ''I am feeling really good about my game right now. Hopefully, I can carry it along all week.''

Wyatt's teammate at Alabama, Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., was among five players tied for second at 5 under.

Thomas, the Jack Nicklaus award winner as the top collegiate golfer a year ago, shot a 65 at the CommonGround course. He did not miss a green during a bogey-free round that also included three birdies and an eagle.

''I hit it pretty well,'' Thomas said. ''I just took advantage of my scoring opportunities. I'm obviously going to be pleased anytime I shoot a 65.''

He also took note of his college teammate's standout round.

''Didn't surprise me at all,'' Thomas said of Wyatt. ''Bobby is an unbelievable player, and he's playing really good. I didn't expect anything less from him.''

Also at 5 under were Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho; Sebastian Vazquez of Mexico; Brandon Hagy of Westlake Village, Calif.; and Max Homa of Valencia, Calif.

According to the U.S. Golf Association, golfers competing in this year's Amateur represent 43 states and 21 countries. Vazquez won the Mexican amateur championship the last two years.

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Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

“It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

“I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

"They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

“It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.