For First Time Nicklaus Not Playing Memorial

By Associated PressMay 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- For the first time in the Memorial Tournament's 31 years, Jack Nicklaus won't be playing in the event he founded.
Now 66, the winner of 18 major championships hopes to stay in the background during the tournament this week. The only time the Golden Bear will hit the course is in the pro-am.
'It'll be strange to me,' said Nicklaus, the only golfer to have played in each of the first 30 Memorials.
Jack Nicklaus hands last year's winner, Bart Bryant, the Memorial trophy.
As the years raced past since his last hurrah on the regular tour -- that memorable back-nine charge to snag the 1986 Masters -- Nicklaus pared his schedule to include little more than the major championships. Yet he played on at the Memorial, the tournament he created in 1976 to honor the contributions of other golfers.
Along the way he had plenty of memorable moments. Nicklaus won the 1977 tournament -- at the time he called it 'my biggest thrill in golf' -- by shooting a final-round 1-under-par 71 to beat Hubert Green by two strokes.
He won it again in 1984, but it took an incredible finish.
Nicklaus was tied with Andy Bean on the 17th hole when he pushed his drive far to the right, the ball bouncing down the cart path and coming to rest under a picnic table on the wood deck of a house on the course's perimeter.
'I said to myself, 'The only way I've got a chance is to make birdie on the next ball,'' he said at the time. And that's just what he did, hitting a second drive, nailing a 4 iron to 25 feet and then curling in the putt for a bogey.
Now down a shot, Nicklaus pulled even with a par on the 72nd hole, then won it on the third sudden-death playoff hole.
Today a brass plaque still marks the spot where that errant drive on 17 came to rest.
Nicklaus, born and raised just a few miles away in Upper Arlington, remained a contender for another decade at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Slowly, painfully, he came to see the gallery's warm applause and shouts of 'Way to go, Jack!' as a polite acknowledgment of what he had done instead of what he was doing.
'It's tough for him,' said former British Open champion Ben Curtis, who idolized Nicklaus while growing up a few miles from Dublin. 'He's at the stage of his life where he wants to do other things. He's designing golf courses and things like that. He's still staying competitive. But it's a different aspect. And now he's enjoying life.'
Men who make their living in the crucible of Sunday pressure say they understand what the decision must have been like for Nicklaus.
'I'm sure he felt it was the right time and he's very much at peace with it,' said 2002 Memorial winner Jim Furyk. 'He is a competitive person and I'm sure there's other things in his life that keep that competitive fire going. From what I understand he's a competitor when he fishes. He's always going to have something.'
Tim Herron, who won this year's Colonial, said Nicklaus became a victim of his own success.
'He doesn't play like he used to,' Herron said. 'But it's hard to be competitive if you're No. 1 in the world for 25 years in a row.'
All athletes come to grips with encroaching age. Some never concede. Nicklaus gradually did.
Kenny Perry, who won the Memorial in 1991 and 2003, knows what Nicklaus was going through.
'My dad was the same way. My dad gave me his golf clubs. He said 'If I can't play like I used to play, then what's the point? I don't want to play any more,'' Perry said.
Last year's British Open at St. Andrew's was Nicklaus' final appearance in a major championship. Now he is taking at least a year away from playing in the Memorial.
Notorious as a micromanager, Nicklaus will devote himself to making the Memorial even more of a prime stop on tour. It annually ranks among the most popular stops for the pros.
Still, he admits he doesn't know for certain what his role will be.
'I'll find something. I'll probably get a little bit more involved in the tournament, which I haven't been recently,' Nicklaus said.
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  • Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

    Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

    Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

    After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

    With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

    “Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

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    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

    In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

    She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”