Jack From Competitor to Ceremonial Golfer

By Associated PressMay 31, 2005, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- If he could write the script to the end of his storied career, Jack Nicklaus wouldnt just walk across the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews on Sunday, it would be late in the afternoon, and the engraver already would be etching his name on the silver claret jug.
He gazed out at some three dozen reporters Tuesday morning and knew what was coming.
Stop laughing, Nicklaus said, unable to contain his own smile.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack's last farewell came earlier this year at Augusta National.
The final chapter could have been written long ago, and Nicklaus, 65, wishes he had a mulligan.
The real script of going out would have been to say goodbye in 86 at Augusta, he said of his sixth victory in the Masters, and 18th professional major. Thats probably what I should have done. If I had any common sense, I would have said goodbye there.
Jack is still here.
He was on the practice range at Muirfield Village late Monday afternoon with swing coach Jim Flick standing behind him. Nicklaus poured all his concentration into every shot, taking his time over each one, as if a major championship was riding on the outcome. His head tilted ever so slightly just before taking the club back, a signature move that allowed him a full turn. Inevitably, his shoulders slumped when he watched the flight of the ball.
Nicklaus is playing in the Memorial, a tournament he created in 1976, for the 30th consecutive year. When he played in the pro-am Tuesday afternoon, it was his third round since he missed the cut at the Masters and said he would no longer compete at Augusta National.
I dont have a game, he said. You know that.
Nicklaus has been saying that for years.
What troubles him is that he doesnt have a plan.
The British Open will be his last major championship, and Nicklaus said he has no intention of playing any more tournament golf. But in the same breath, he reserved the right to play in the Memorial as a past champion (1977 and 1984) and as the host of one of the best PGA Tour events of the year.
But if Nicklaus is done with tournament golf after the British Open, and he decides to play in the Memorial next year or any year thereafter, then by his own definition he will become a ceremonial player.
And thats the one thing he never wanted to be.
Some might argue he already is.
Realistically, the best I can do would be probably make the cut or something, and that would be about it, Nicklaus said. Thats not really competitive. I wish I could answer your question, because I cant answer it myself. I cant answer in my own mind what I want to do.
Arnold Palmer had ceremonious farewells from the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 1994, and twice from the Masters, the final occasion coming last year in his 50th appearance. He posed atop the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews in 1995, the last year he was eligible for the British Open.
Nicklaus has never been about ceremony, only competition.
He also is vastly different from Palmer in the amount of golf he plays when the ropes are down and the gallery gone. Palmer plays as often as he can. Nicklaus doesnt know what recreational golf is.
I like tournament golf, Nicklaus said. Thats what I do. I love to go out and prepare to do something. When Im not preparing to do anything, what am I doing out there?
Still, it would be easier to walk away for good if not for the occasional hope. He played Friday at the Bears Club in south Florida, where the greens were running about 14 on the Stimpmeter, and shot 70. His other round since the Masters was Sunday at Muirfield Village, and he shot 74 with a triple bogey on his card.
If I went out there and in preparation was shooting 80-something, I would say Im not even going to bother to play, Nicklaus said. While I have some semblance of a game, Im going to say, OK, Im going to play. But Im going to say bye at the same time while I still have that.
I dont want to be shooting 85 when Im saying goodbye.
Then again, Nicklaus has never been big on goodbyes. Even on the day he shot 30 on the back nine at Augusta National and won his sixth green jacket at age 46, someone asked him about retirement.
Maybe I should go out on a win like this, he said that Sunday afternoon. Maybe I should just say goodbye. Maybe that would be the smart thing to do. But Im not that smart.
Now, he grits his teeth when players congratulate him for making the cut, as they did last year at the Memorial. He wont play just to satisfy the nostalgic whim of the fans.
I cant please anybody if I cant please myself, he said.
If Im shooting 85, I cant possibly be pleasing anybody else. Somebody has come in'whatever it cost them to buy a ticket'to watch Jack Nicklaus play golf, Id like to have them see Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus gets rousing ovations wherever he goes, primarily out of admiration, partially because no one is sure if they will see him again. He expects to get the royal treatment at St. Andrews, but only because thats the nature of the British fans.
Theyve always accepted me as a golfer, and thats what I wanted to be accepted as, he said. Hopefully, thats what I was.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry