Nicklaus to Skip US Senior Open
This time, he won't play because he doesn't want to.
Nicklaus missed the deadline for entering the U.S. Senior Open last week and still doesn't know where - or if - he will play the remainder of the 2004 season.
'I have nothing against the Senior Open,' Nicklaus said. 'I have always been very high on the USGA and their championships. Whether it was the U.S. Open or the U.S. Senior Open, they have always been among the most significant championships to me. I just felt that I didn't want to play.'
The subject of Nicklaus retiring has been broached since the Masters, and he said repeatedly that he wasn't going to play much, if at all, the rest of the year.
His last tournament was the Memorial, where he shot 1-under 71 the final day and tied for 63rd.
He has played only six tournaments this year, four of them on the Champions Tour. He withdrew last month from the rain-delayed Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla after rounds 75-70-76.
Nicklaus still is expected to play in the Memorial next year, and possibly two majors - the Masters and the British Open, because Royal & Ancient officials moved the event to St. Andrews for Nicklaus' final year of eligibility.
Every other year, the PGA Championship is two tournaments in one - a major, and the last chance to make the Ryder Cup team. Jeff Maggert showed that in 1997 when he closed with a 5-under 65 at Winged Foot to clinch a spot on the team.
This year, he might not get that chance.
Maggert's wife, Michelle, is pregnant with twins and likely to give birth the week of the PGA Championship.
'The PGA is not looking good on my schedule at this point,' Maggert said. 'If I do play, it will be a situation where I've got a beeper on. And I don't know if I want to put myself through that.'
That makes the next month critical toward his chances. Maggert took a big step last week at the U.S. Open, where he finished third and moved up to No. 10 in the standings.
Despite not having television sponsors for the second straight year, the Masters announced Tuesday it was donating more than $3.2 million to charity, bringing its total the last seven years to $22.2 million.
Masters chairman Hootie Johnson said $1.25 million would be given to a foundation that supports charities in Augusta, Ga., such as the Child Enrichment shelter program for children removed from their homes; and Girls Incorporated, an outreach program that focuses on drug abuse prevention and self-esteem.
Augusta National also is giving $1 million to The First Tee, an initiative to provide affordable access to golf. The rest of the money is going to major golf organizations, the Tiger Woods Foundation and The First Tee of Augusta.
No one was more interested in the return of David Duval than Ian Baker-Finch, also a former British Open champion whose game disappeared until he finally called it quits when he shot 92 in the first round of the '97 British Open at Royal Troon.
Duval played competitively for the first time in seven months at the U.S. Open and opened with an 83.
Baker-Finch was at Shinnecock Hills doing TV work and asked about Duval's round. He was told that Duval looked fine from his approach shots to around the green, but that he was struggling off the tee.
'Yep,' Baker-Finch said, pursing his lips and nodding his head. 'Same as me.'
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are among several players who went to Shinnecock Hills ahead of time to prepare for the U.S. Open.
Strangely, hardly anyone goes to the U.S. Women's Open site ahead of time.
'We have a rule that you can't play there the week before, so I think that prevents the whole deal,' Annika Sorenstam said. 'That means you can't go to the course early because they expect you to play the week before.'
The rule seems outdated, especially since LPGA Tour players now are required to go to every tournament at least once in a four-year cycle.
Then again, nothing would have stopped the women from going to Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass., two weeks before the Women's Open.
Europeans now have gone 34 years without winning the U.S. Open. Sergio Garcia came the closest at Shinnecock, closing with an 80 to finish in a tie for 20th.
Many thought this might be the year to end the drought because Shinnecock is a links-styled course.
Paul Lawrie of Scotland is among those who believe that theory doesn't hold water.
'We play two tournaments a year on links,' Lawrie said, referring to the British Open and the Dunhill Links Championship, a pro-am played on St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kings Barn. 'I don't know why everyone thinks this suits us so well.'
Retief Goosen joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win multiple majors since the start of the 1999 season. ... Twelve players failed to break 300 for a 72-hole score in the U.S. Open. A year ago at Olympia Fields, Ryan Dillon was the only player at 300 or higher. ... The PGA Tour finally announced that the 2005 American Express Championship will be played at Harding Park, a public course in San Francisco. That means California will get two of the three World Golf Championships that count toward official money next year. The other is the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa. ... With two majors out of the way, Phil Mickelson is leading the points-based PGA of American player of the year race with 80 points, followed by Vijay Singh with 62. Tiger Woods is sixth with 36 points. ... The gimmick nature of the setup at Shinnecock Hills has been compared to Carnoustie. The common link - Colin Vernon, who caddied for Paul Lawrie at the '99 British Open and Retief Goosen in the U.S. Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jay Haas might not be the best player to never win a major, but he has had the most chances. The U.S. Open was his 77th appearance in a major.
'I'm glad I'm on this side of the ropes.' - Craig Stadler, after watching his son, Kevin, shoot 85 in the final round of the U.S. Open.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”