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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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.