Notes Jack To Be Right On the Money - Literally
Nicklaus will join rare company next week when the Royal Bank of Scotland issues currency with his picture. RBS will put into circulation 2 million 5-pound notes in Scotland during the British Open at St. Andrews, where Nicklaus won in 1970 and 1978.
RBS has been issuing its own bank notes since 1727, and Nicklaus will be the only living person to appear on a Scottish note besides Her Majesty the Queen and the late Queen Mother.
'That one is something I have a hard time just fathoming,' said Nicklaus, who has had an endorsement deal with RBS the last three years.
Nicklaus has said the British Open will be his last major championship, and he considers St. Andrews a second home. He speaks often of the affection the Scottish people have shown him since his first trip to the home of golf in 1964. Nicklaus is the only American to win the Open twice at St. Andrews.
'I'm an American - not a Scot or a Brit,' Nicklaus said. 'St. Andrews and Scotland ... RBS has realized that's been a special part of my life and my career, and they wanted to commemorate my last Open Championship. I thought that was just something very, very special.'
The special note will be unveiled July 12 at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
Ernie Els planned to take three weeks off before the British Open, but it was far from peaceful. He wasn't home for a week when he learned that his grandfather, Ernie Vermaak, had died at age 97.
He flew his family from London to South Africa last week for the funeral.
'It's very upsetting, obviously, but at the same time, we all want to celebrate his incredible life, which he really lived to the full,' Els said on his Web site. 'He was a great character and a big influence on all of us.'
Els' grandfather is ultimately responsible for the Big Easy taking up golf. He introduced the game to Els' father, then to Ernie and his brother. Els is building Gardener Ross Golf & Country Estate on farmland in Gauteng, South Africa, where his grandfather grew up.
It took some 30 years for Carol Semple Thompson, the Grand Dame of the USGA, to decide it was time to shift from player to captain at the Curtis Cup.
Thompson, a seven-time USGA champion who has played on a record 12 Curtis Cup teams, will be captain of the U.S. team in 2006 at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. She last played in the Curtis Cup in 2002 at age 53, when she holed a 27-foot putt on the 18th green as the United States retained the Cup.
'I think it will be very different,' she said. 'Before, I was just able to relax and think about my own game, and now I will have to think about a lot more people. But I think it's a natural progression, and I think it will be great fun. I figured someday it would come. I guess I didn't figure it would come this soon.'
She hasn't stopped playing, however.
Thompson plans to compete in the U.S. Women's Amateur next month, her 100th individual USGA competition.
BAKER-FINCH ON HOLD
Ian Baker-Finch plans to play the British Open again, just not this year.
Baker-Finch, who won at Royal Birkdale in 1991 before his game fell apart through injury and shattered confidence, hasn't played a PGA Tour event in four years. He was practicing hard earlier with plans to play Colonial, where he is a past champion, and possibly the British Open at St. Andrews.
But he was not among the 19 former champions who entered this year.
'I'm not playing well enough to go put it all on the line at this stage,' Baker-Finch said. 'My aim is to definitely do it, but I'm not going to do it until I know I can. That's my situation at the moment.'
Baker-Finch will be at St. Andrews, but only in his capacity with ABC Sports. He last played the British Open in 1997 at Royal Troon, shooting a 92 in the first round.
CUP RUNNETH OVER
Europe has captured the Ryder Cup seven of the last 10 matches. Great Britain & Ireland has won the Walker Cup the last three years, its longest streak ever.
Luke Donald of England has played on two winning Walker Cup teams and one winning Ryder Cup team, and he has an idea why the Americans no longer dominate.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em - and then you'll beat 'em.
Donald noted that the shift in the Walker Cup matches happened about the time more British and Irish golfers began playing college golf in the United States; Donald was the NCAA champion when he played at Northwestern. Europe's dominance in the Ryder Cup began as more of its players started spending more time on the PGA Tour.
'I think there's a strong correlation,' Donald said. 'A lot of the Ryder Cup guys play in the U.S. a lot. They're more accustomed to the U.S.-style golf courses, they're more accustomed to playing with the U.S. players, and they're no longer intimidated by them. And I think that's the same with the Walker Cup guys. They feel like they can hold their own in the U.S. college system, and they have every right to be as good as the U.S. guys.'
GB&I will go for its fourth straight Walker Cup victory next month near Chicago.
Walter Driver has been nominated to serve a one-year term as USGA president. He will be formally elected Feb. 4 at the USGA's annual meeting in Atlanta. ... Brittany Lang, the 19-year-old who tied for second in the U.S. Women's Open, will make her professional debut this week at the Jamie Farr Classic in Toledo, Ohio. She also will play next week in the Canadian Women's Open in Nova Scotia. ... Tiger Woods became the first player to go over $50 million in career earnings, which led British golf announcer Peter Aliss to say, 'Money isn't everything, but it's right up there with oxygen and food.'
STAT OF THE WEEK
Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel each finished in the top 10 at the Western Open, only their second top 10 since winning a major championship in 2003.
'I hope this sends a message to all of the European tour players, that you can win major championships not playing in America.' - U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, who said he will continue playing the majority of his golf in Europe.
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.