A Major Send-Off for Nicklaus

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Of all the moments that have defined the incomparable career of Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the most shocking display of emotion showed just how much he loves St. Andrews.
 
His idol, Bobby Jones, always said that a great career was not complete without winning the British Open at the home of golf, and Nicklaus was desperate to capture the claret jug on the Old Course. He had a one-shot lead over Doug Sanders on the final hole of the 1970 playoff when Nicklaus smashed his drive over the 18th green.
 
Sanders played a bump-and-run to 5 feet, and Nicklaus chipped down to 8 feet. He crouched over the birdie putt, frozen until he was ready, then watched the ball curl in the right side of the cup.
 
Nicklaus is famous for raising his left hand and the putter when he makes a crucial putt.
 
This one was much bigger. He thrust his arm skyward and leapt with such force that his putter went airborne, causing Sanders to duck.
 
``I had never shown emotion like that before, and it was totally out of character,'' Nicklaus later said. ``But then, I had never before won the oldest golf championship in the world at the cradle and home of the game.''
 
It wasn't the only time he lost control on the Old Course.
 
Leading by two shots playing the 18th hole in 1978, tears began to fill his eyes as he walked toward the green and saw thousands of fans lining the fairways and crammed into balconies. His caddie, Jimmy Dickinson, had to jab him in the ribs to remind him there was still some golf left before he held the claret jug.
 
Nick Price remembers that moment. He was 21, playing in his second British Open, and had finished in a tie for 39th about two hours earlier. Price stuck around, wanting to watch Nicklaus finish.
 
``When he walked off the 18th green, there was a tear in his eye,'' Price said. ``I thought, 'Why is he crying? Why is he so emotional?' Only after a period of 15 years playing in the Open championship do you realize how special St. Andrews is. I understand very well now why he was so emotional about it.''
 
The most poignant moment awaits.
 
Sometime next week -- possibly on Friday, preferably on Sunday -- Nicklaus will cross the Swilcan Bridge down the 18th fairway at St. Andrews and wave goodbye to the greatest championship career golf has ever seen. He has said the 134th British Open will be his final appearance at a major.
 
Nicklaus can think of no better place to end his career.
 
``The reception every time I've ever played in Scotland, the people have always accepted me as I went around,'' Nicklaus said. ``It's been fun, a great experience for me every time I've gone there. I thought that was my place to want to finish up playing golf.''
 
Nicklaus calls himself a sentimental fool and expects emotions he has never felt before. He was in St. Andrews two months ago and walked onto the first tee and over toward the 18th green, breathing the wind off St. Andrews Bay and seeing the hotels and shops lining the tiny street next to the fairway.
 
Even then, his eyes welled up with tears.
 
``It just sort of gets me every time I go there,'' Nicklaus said. ``Just because what it has meant to the game of golf, and what it has meant to me.''
 
Tiger Woods is pursuing Nicklaus' benchmark of 18 professional majors, and might one day catch him. Still, it is difficult to conceive of another player dominating the four Grand Slam events the way Nicklaus did.
 
Only four other men have won all four professional majors -- the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. Nicklaus is the only one to have captured them all at least three times.
 
``He always showed up with the intent of winning,'' Woods said.
 
This will be his 164th start in a major, including 146 in a row from the 1962 Masters through the 1998 U.S. Open. And while his 18 majors define his career, even more staggering is that Nicklaus was a runner-up 19 times.
 
``He made it special, the way he played the game,'' Scott Hoch said. ``If he can't compete, then it's not worth playing for him. Jack is all about competition, and that's the way a warrior should be.''
 
Nicklaus is eligible to play the Masters as long as he likes, although he said in April he would no longer compete at Augusta National. Those close to Nicklaus do not expect him to change his mind next year.
 
As a former British Open champion, he is eligible to play until he is 65. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club recognized this was his last year of eligibility, so it changed the rotation to make St. Andrews the host course in 2005, one year ahead of schedule. But there are no tributes planned to mark Nicklaus' farewell.
 
``Jack is not one for that sort of thing,'' R&A executive Peter Dawson said earlier this year. ``He'd rather be treated like a competitor than a monument.''
 
In some ways, it is fitting that Nicklaus go out at the British Open.
 
He has won the Masters (six times), the U.S. Open (four times) and the PGA Championship (five times) as often as any other player, while 10 players have won more than his three British Open titles.
 
Even so, his performance at golf's oldest championship reveals a record that is unrivaled.
 
Not only was he a seven-time runner-up, Nicklaus went through a 15-year stretch in which he never finished worse than a tie for sixth in the British Open.
 
``For some reason, I went to the British Open and every year I felt like I was going to win; or if I didn't win, I was going to be right there. And I was,'' Nicklaus said. ``I just like the way they played the game.''
 
Nicklaus stopped playing a full schedule in 2000, the last time he played all four majors. He has made the cut only twice on the PGA Tour since then, both times at the Memorial.
 
But he has high hopes for St. Andrews. Even though Nicklaus introduced power to the modern game, the Old Course is a links course that doesn't demand strength to keep up with kids half his age.
 
``Realistically, I could do fairly well at St. Andrews,'' Nicklaus said. ``That's what I'd like to do.''
 
What motivates him to play well at St. Andrews, and why he wants to end his major championship career at the home of golf, are the people that come to watch him play. They appreciate good golf shots, not just big stars, in Scotland.
 
Nicklaus felt that warmth when he first came over to Scotland for the Walker Cup in 1959, and at Royal Troon in 1962 for his first British Open, and especially in 1964 for his first trip to St. Andrews, where he wound up on the windy side of the draw and finished second to the late Tony Lema.
 
``They understand their golf,'' he said. ``They appreciate something that's being done, and done well. Maybe as time went on, they embraced me a little bit more, simply because I guess I was more successful.''
 
Price can only hope he can be standing on the 18th again when Nicklaus finishes the tournament.
 
``This is the passing of an era,'' Price said. ``I don't think anyone's ever done as much for the British Open as Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer took it to a level and made an awareness around the world, but Jack really took it further and made it a phenomenal championship.''
 
Nicklaus never has been one for a ceremonial farewell, although he understands the relationship with Scottish fans is different. They embraced him as a 24-year-old with a crew cut and indomitable will, and they will embrace him as an aging champion in his final major.
 
``They've always accepted me as a golfer, and that's what I wanted to be accepted as,'' Nicklaus said. ``Hopefully, that's what I was.''
 
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  • Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


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    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: