Notes Nicklaus Touched by Players Gift

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- One tradition at the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup is for the players to give their captain a gift before the matches begin. U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus received a gift that brought him to tears.
The players, with help from the PGA Tour and Nicklaus' family, commissioned a large oil painting of Jake Nicklaus, his 17-month-old grandson, who drowned in a hot tub on March 1.
Phil Mickelson presented the portrait to Nicklaus with a heartfelt speech.
Nicklaus put the portrait in the team room, in a corner to the right of the main door. He wants to find a permanent home for it, possibly in the Nicklaus Children's Hospital near his home in south Florida.
Jake was the son of Steve and Krista Nicklaus, the Golden Bear's second-oldest son. They were on their way to the Presidents Cup on Saturday - which would have been Jake's second birthday.
Mickelson declined to talk about the present, but he did speak in general terms over his excitement of spending a week with Nicklaus as captain.
``Having the greatest player in the game, just being around him and his wife Barbara, who exudes class, has been a lot of fun,'' Mickelson said. ``But having him be our captain and developing an intimate relationship with them - you talk about family and friends - for me, who grew up idolizing him, who grew up watching him win major championships, to have a friendship with him is very special.''
Phil Mickelson's wife felt a wild shift of emotions on the par-3 seventh hole Saturday morning.
Standing to the right of the green, Amy Mickelson watched Chris DiMarco make only the second ace in Presidents Cup history, giving DiMarco and Mickelson the early lead in an alternate-shot match.
Moments later, she discovered that a sapphire had come loose from her ring and fallen into thick rough.
After the American team walked by toward the eighth tee, she started searching in the tall grass and soon was joined by a half-dozen marshals, and even a few fans pressed near the ropes. Right when she was about to give up, a marshal found the sapphire.
Mrs. Mickelson hugged him twice, asked for a business card and was all smiles again.
``This really was a lucky hole,'' she said.
By the way, DiMarco used a 7-iron to ace the 187-yard hole, which hugs the shoreline of Lake Manassas.
``You could see it in the air, like, 'OK, this is going to be good.' And you saw it bounce and you saw it roll,'' DiMarco said.
It was the fifth hole-in-one on the PGA Tour in DiMarco's career. The only previous ace in the Presidents Cup was made by International player David Frost on the same course in 1994.
A misunderstanding led Davis Love III to think Mike Weir had conceded an 18-inch putt at the 17th hole during the morning foursomes.
So, when Love picked up the ball - which had been hit Stewart Cink on a nice approach shot - Weir asked him what he was doing. As Love stood with his arms outstretched, the gallery began to boo.
``I think they thought I was trying to win the hole that way,'' Weir said. ``That wasn't the case at all.''
Weir wanted to see the coin mark on the green, a psychological reminder that the match was over if Weir had missed his 8-foot attempt.
``It was my fault,'' Love said. ``I heard him say 'good.' And he said 'Good shot, Stewie.'''
Unsure what to do, both captains arrived on the green, along with retired USGA rules chief Tom Meeks. Weir's partner, Trevor Immelman, argued that picking up the ball without it being conceded is loss of the hole, but all Weir wanted was for Love to replace the ball.
Meeks said replacing the ball was within the rules because Love had misunderstood Weir's words. Weir made his putt, picked up Love's coin and they headed to the 18th, where the Americans finished the 1-up victory.
Vijay Singh had a very long day Saturday at the Presidents Cup.
He and Stuart Appleby faced Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in both the morning foursomes and the afternoon fourball, and Woods and Furyk took their own sweet time conferring with each other when lining up to putt.
``Just too slow,'' Singh said. ``It took us 5 1/2 hours to play. ... Around the greens it just took forever to play. Toward the end, it took its toll. I had a partner that wasn't very fast, either. ... I have a pace and I play to my pace. I don't know what the officials are doing. We had 20, 25 minutes behind time, they are just not stepping up and saying, 'Hey, you are slow. Hurry up.'''
To help avoid a repeat of the tie finish in the 2003 Presidents Cup, the rules will be different for Sunday's singles.
Any match that is even after 18 holes will go to a sudden-death playoff - until one team or the other has reached the required 17 1/2 points to win the Cup. Once the Cup is secured, all matches that are tied through 18 will be called a halve.
Of course, that mean there can't be a tie for the Cup. If each team wins six matches Sunday, there will be a 17-17 draw - and the Cup will be shared for yet another two years. There will be no extra one-on-one playoff, as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els had two years ago in South Africa before darkness halted play.
Left unanswered is what happens if darkness stops play this time with the competition undecided.
``Darkness?'' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said with a sigh. ``You're going to have to ask a higher power. I don't have the answer to that question.''
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk went 1-0-1 in their two matches Saturday, but they also provided some comic relief at the short par-4 eighth.
Woods' tee shot went awry and landed at the No. 9 tee. Furyk's attempt to get the ball back to the correct hole failed - his shot hit a tree branch, dropping the ball right back on the tee box. Woods got the ball to the steep rough by the eighth green, Furyk got the ball to the fringe, and Woods made one putt before the hole was mercifully conceded to Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby.
After three days, Americans David Toms and Kenny Perry are the only two players in the competition yet to score a point.
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