Nicklaus Finally Slowing Down

By Associated PressMay 30, 2004, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Jack Nicklaus knows he will play this coming week at the Memorial Tournament, which he founded and hosts.
Beyond that, he hasn't made any tee times.

'I don't have anything else on my schedule the rest of the year,' Nicklaus said prior to the start of the Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla outside Louisville, Ky. 'I'm going to play father-son stuff and Skins games and that kind of stuff, you know, if I'm invited. But tournament golf, I don't see myself playing much. I might play an odd tournament here and there, but only if the mood strikes me and I want to go play.'
The 64-year-old Golden Bear, not so tired as much as tired of not playing well, has enjoyed his time away from the course. He dotes on his 17 grandkids and spends a lot of time with his wife of 43 years, Barbara.
Unlike early in his career, when he built his summers around the major championships, Nicklaus now enjoys a varied life. Just as he has cut back on his competitive schedule, he no longer devotes as much time to his golf-course design business or to golf exhibitions and public appearances.
Asked what motivates him these days, Nicklaus smiled.
'Frankly, I find an awful lot of competition in trying to catch a fish properly,' he said. 'It's something that I'm getting better at all the time -- particularly with a fly rod. A lot of the courses that I select [to play] usually are close to good trout streams or something. And my wife likes to fish. So the two of us can go trout fishing together. We can go bone fishing together or do whatever we want to do.'
Nicklaus always put his family first but he was always pulled away by his travels to the far-flung golf outposts of the world. He said he is fortunate that he can now spend more time with loved ones without giving up his many other interests and businesses.
'My wife has spent a whole bunch of weekends watching me hit a golf ball, so it might be time I spent some time doing the things she likes to do,' he said.
Joey Sindelar, another former Ohio State golfer, won the Wachovia three weeks ago at the age of 46. He grew up idolizing Nicklaus.
As sorry as Sindelar would be to see Nicklaus stop playing tournaments, he also admires the decision.
'I'm actually happy that he said those things. It's nice that he came to that conclusion,' Sindelar said. 'He was a slave to the game -- in a great way, you know -- but he did it all and now he says, 'This is a different time in my life for different stuff.' I'm OK with that. I think it's pretty awesome.'
Nicklaus doesn't spend a lot of weekends around his home in North Palm Beach, Fla. If he did, he might end up doing nothing but sitting in a lawn chair behind the chain-link fence at a dusty ballpark every night.
'I've got 17 grandkids,' he said with a chuckle. 'I'll have to say that maybe it's a little bit too much Little League baseball.'
In April at a charity pro-am in South Carolina, Nicklaus all but said his competitive golf days were over. Too proud to play ceremonial golf while shooting high scores, Nicklaus said then that he didn't want to lower his standards just because of his age, his creaky back, his hip replacements or arthritis.
'If I go out and finish in the top 10, and that's a great week, then I know it's time to hang up your spikes,' he said at the time.
That caused a sensation because many people do not want to see Nicklaus step away from the game. He is still a popular draw at tournaments.
But while players and friends such as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player seem perfectly content to make appearances to soak up the applause of an adoring public, that doesn't get Nicklaus excited. Only winning gets Nicklaus' competitive juices flowing.
'That is all I've ever played for. That's why I probably don't want to play anymore because winning is really an issue with me that is probably beyond my ability at this point in my life. And that is the only reason I ever play,' he said.
Even when he does not play up to his expectations, Nicklaus is met with thunderous applause at every green during the Memorial Tournament. He designed and built the Muirfield Village Golf Club course, helps organize and administer the tournament and has won it twice.
The large galleries don't really care how Nicklaus is playing; they just appreciate the fact that he brings the PGA Tour event to his hometown.
'I'm always amazed at the number of people who walk up to him and say, 'Jack, thanks for bringing this to Columbus,'' Memorial Tournament executive director Dan Sullivan said.
Nicklaus said he may continue to play the Memorial even after he has stopped playing in other tournaments. He has played in all 28 Memorials and once again was the first player to commit to the field this year.
Nicklaus' last major championship was the 1986 Masters. He has won 73 PGA Tour events and 18 major titles. Now he gets a kick out of playing events with his four sons -- Jackie, Gary, Steve and Michael -- or teaching his grandkids the finer points of the golf swing.
Just like the inaugural tournament in 1976, Nicklaus will tee it up in the Memorial. But the clock is ticking, even for one of the titans of the game.
'He's been the best we've ever seen in modern tour golf -- it's not even close,' Sindelar said. 'Just as I came on the tour in the early 1980s, he was pretty much phasing out. I never got to see him in his prime, although I got to see him play some great golf. I know it hurts him to play golf. That isn't fun.
'It's an era that's going to be officially closed.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

Getty Images

Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

Getty Images

Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

Getty Images

Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.