A Farewell To Jack at Least At St Andrews
Some thought it might have happened last year at the Memorial. Nicklaus showed more emotion than usual when he made a tricky putt on the 18th hole of the final round to shoot a 1-under 71.
If that was my last round, I was very pleased with shooting under par the last round I played in a tournament, Nicklaus said that day. And if I play again, then that doesnt mean anything.
He played again at this years Masters.
Nicklaus shot 77 in the second round, missing a 4-foot birdie putt on his last hole and missing the cut by a mile. Wiping tears from his eyes as he walked off the ninth green, he said after signing his card that he was done competing at Augusta National.
I have the ability to come back, Nicklaus said. Billy Casper came back after how many years? He just wanted to come back, and he wanted to play one more round. I dont think Ill do that. But I have the right to do that.
This summer, he has no choice.
Nicklaus will play the British Open for the last time because former champions are no longer exempt beyond 65.
The Golden Bear, golfs greatest champion, thought he had said goodbye in 2000 at St. Andrews when he waved to an adoring gallery from the stone bridge over the Swilken Burn as he walked up the 18th fairway. Everyone thought they were part of a historic moment.
Ill go home and tell everybody how I saw Jack Nicklaus go over the Swilken Bridge for the last time dressed in his yellow shirt on a sunny day, said one fan, Carol Anne Doig of Canada. It doesnt get any better than that.
Jack is back.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club simply made Nicklaus an offer he couldnt refuse. St. Andrews is his favorite links course on earth, and the R&A rearranged the rotation to make sure that when Nicklaus turned 65, the British Open would be held on the Old Course.
Once again, Nicklaus will pause atop the Swilken Bridge, preferably on a Sunday, and take one last look at the Old Course where he won two claret jugs. That scene will set off enough cameras to make Prince Charles blush.
And then the guessing game will resume.
Nicklaus stopped by London on his way home from a golf course project in Spain, and he told reporters Monday that the British Open will be the end of his competitive career.
From a tournament standpoint, that will be it for me, Nicklaus said.
It wasnt clear if Nicklaus was talking about any tournament, or just major championships. He stopped playing the PGA Championship in 2000 at Valhalla (a course he designed), and even though he is exempt for life, its highly unlikely Nicklaus would take up a spot in the 156-man field.
Still to be determined is whether he plays the Masters, although signs point to him showing up only for dinner.
The emotion at Augusta National was genuine, but the circumstances were strange.
Nicklaus said he played only because Masters chairman Hootie Johnson asked him to come back and say goodbye. If that was the case, why did tournament officials have Nicklaus finish the second round at No. 9, instead of allowing for a traditional farewell on the 18th?
And then theres the Memorial.
Nicklaus created this tournament, one of the purest events on the PGA Tour, won it twice and serves as the tournament host. It has a limited field, so he is not taking a spot away from anyone.
Ill play here as long as I can play and I can contribute to the tournament, Nicklaus said last year at the Memorial. I may play here one more year or 10 more years. If Im going to play someplace, this is where Ill play.
He made the cut last year at age 64, the second-oldest player to do that in PGA Tour history. Told that Sam Snead was 67 when he made the cut at the 1979 Westchester Classic, Nicklaus joked, Ill be back when Im 68.
Nicklaus also is playing on the Champions Tour outside Kansas City, Mo., next month, but only because he designed the golf course and can play the pro-am format with his son. Already, there is talk that Kansas City might be his final appearance in the United States except for silly season events.
Nicklaus has never felt obligated to tell anyone when he will stop playing for good.
It shouldnt matter.
Ben Hogans professional career ended when he drove off in a cart at the 1971 Houston Open. Byron Nelson eased into retirement after he earned enough money to buy his ranch, and played his final Masters in 1966.
Besides, Nicklaus has never been about ceremony. R&A executive Peter Dawson was asked earlier this year whether officials planned any kind of tribute for Nicklaus playing in his final British Open.
Jack is not one for that sort of thing, Dawson said. Hed rather be treated like a competitor than a monument.
Maybe thats why Nicklaus was coy last year at the Memorial about his future in tournament golf.
Youll be in suspense, hopefully, for a lot of years, Nicklaus said. Because you never know when I might show up.
Hell be at the British Open, and then hell be gone.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.