A Farewell To Jack at Least At St Andrews

By Associated PressMay 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
Jack Nicklaus always keeps everyone guessing about when the next round of golf will be his last.
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.
Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.