Nicklaus wants to challenge not punish players

By Associated PressJune 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' The morning calm at Muirfield Village was shattered by a sound that was sure to be sweet music to players.
 
It came from the engine of a lawn mower.
 
Mowers were thought to be a myth last year at the Memorial. The rough was supposed to be 4 inches, yet it doubled in length by the end of the week, and was particularly punishing around the greens. It felt as though the U.S. Open had arrived two weeks early.
 
Geoff Ogilvy feared some players would stop coming.
 
Phil Mickelson showed his displeasure by praising the course of every tournament he had played that year except for the Memorial. Even before his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lefty did not have Muirfield Village on his schedule this year.
 
We were over the top last year, said Slugger White, the PGA Tour official in charge of setting up the course.
 
The fault fell to Jack Nicklaus ' at least thats the perception of most players.
 
After all, this is the course Jack built for a tournament he has hosted since 1976. Nicklaus built his career around the majors, and he wants the Memorial to be the next best thing.
 
But even Nicklaus was troubled by the high grass, not to mention the complaints.
 
The one thing I never liked as a golfer was hack-out rough, Nicklaus said Tuesday. Ive always felt that if you put the ball in the rough, there should be some chance of playing a shot to reach the green, but not be able to control the ball like you would normally. I think recovery is a beautiful part of the game.
 
Muirfield Village is spectacular as ever, but not the same this year. The rough is not as dense, not as high. The wooden rakes that created furrows in the bunkers the last three years have been replaced by standard rakes that leave the sand smooth.
 
This came not from concession, rather discussion.
 
Nicklaus met with PGA Tour officials, as always, after Kenny Perry won last year with the highest winning score (280) in 23 years.
 
I dont think Mr. Nicklaus or the Tour liked what came out of last year, said Steve Rintoul, the Tour official who oversaw the course setup this year. The rules committee, in conjunction with Jack, thought it better to have shorter rough.
 
Ultimately, the Tour has the final word in how the course plays.
 
But if Nicklaus is the one taking the heat whenever someone complains ' a chief hobby for most players on this Tour ' then why not just take full authority of his golf tournament?
 
Nicklaus chuckled at the suggestion.
 
We are part of the Tour, he said. What I want to do is cooperate the best I can, have middle round on what I want to do and what the players like. My feeling is, do I want them to not like it? Of course not. I want everybody to be happy, everybody to enjoy it. But not everyone thinks the way I think. Im 69. Guys are 40 years younger than I am, or more. They havent been brought up the way I was.
 
Its more my job to adjust to them than their job to adjust to me.
 
But there are some areas where Nicklaus will not budge.
 
Bunkers that had furrows now are smooth. High rough is now shorter. The Tour also suggested that Nicklaus slow the speed of the greens, and thats where he drew the line.
 
Ill yield to the other two, but thats our golf course, he said. The golf course has always had fast greens.
 
Neither will Nicklaus budge on his belief that players are to be challenged.
 
There are some who believe golf should be about entertainment, that fans would rather see birdies than players grinding over par.
 
Its not for every tournament. Its not for the Memorial.
 
For Nicklaus, there is a difference between tournament golf and entertaining golf, even if both can provide a similar outcome. Carl Pettersson, who won the Memorial three years ago, understood what Nicklaus was talking about.
 
Tournament golf is hard work, he said. Its like a doctor going into surgery; youre worn out when its over. In tournament golf, you have to be thinking on every shot.
 
Nicklaus recalls one PGA Tour event that kept begging him to play. He finally relented, shot four rounds in the 60s and kept falling farther and farther down the leaderboard.
 
My feeling is when youre setting up a golf tournament, you should try to have the best test you can have that week for the players, Nicklaus said. When I played, I chose my tournaments based on how the golf course would be and how the challenge would be. I knew if I had a good challenge, it would not only help my game, but improve my ability to prepare for when I got to a major. To come in town and collect money and get out and not have a challenge was something I didnt want to do.
 
But maybe Im different.
 
In one aspect, he is no different from any other tournament host. No longer a player, no longer Presidents Cup captain after three straight terms, his primary involvement in the PGA Tour comes through the Memorial. And he still looks at a golf course the way he would want to see it if he were still playing.
 
For the most part, this is most guys favorite tournament, and I want it to stay that way, he said. But I want tournament golf.
 
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

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    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

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    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


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    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


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