Curtain Slowly Drops on Jacks Career
People didn't believe him last year. I've got a suspicion Jack wasn't sure himself. But as he dragged his 61-year-old body through the paces at each event, something just said, 'It's really gone.' I know - he got a new hip. He felt great for the first time in a long, long while. But the muscles just were not going to cooperate. He could shoot 72s and 73s, but no longer could he match the young men in shooting their 69s and 70s. Retirement - and I mean full retirement - suddenly got a whole lot nearer.
Nicklaus isn't like Arnold Palmer. He doesn't love golf like Arnie, who will go out and slap some balls just for the pure exhilaration of it. Palmer loves getting together with the guys, whoever that is at the moment, playing a little golf, having a little innocent fun.
Nicklaus is wound differently. He might go out and play a round or two with the sons or the grandkids, but he seldom plays solely for recreation. Golf for Jack has been his means of support - period. Golf for Palmer has been his means of support, sure. But it has been so much more for Arnold, a social outlet, a way to get outside and raise a little hell with 'the boys.'
Nicklaus, the ultimate champion, finds it incredulous that he can't win anymore. Deep down inside, he's struggling to come to terms with a body that just can't beat Tiger. He's smart enough to realize when to call it quits, smart enough to read numbers and tell when a 73 just isn't a 67. When he realizes it with finality, it will be over. Nicklaus won't get out there just to be 'out.' He has to have a reasonable chance of winning.
Nicklaus has never been public about his massive ability, but he was certainly aware of it. Oh, how he was aware of it. That's why today, when for the first time in years his body feels fit, he just can't believe it won't crank out a numbing succession of pars and birdies. But there's a thing called 'age' that comes creeping, that slows the swing speed just slightly, that causes putts to lip out instead of finding the cup, and that adds to the score little by little.
'I'm playing reasonably well,' said Jack this week on a conference call to tout the Senior Skins game. 'I've actually been working quite hard on my golf game in recent weeks. If I'm going to give myself a chance to play, I might as well go ahead and play.
'Physically, I'm feeling very good. My foot has calmed down and I have been walking every day. I've taken off some pounds over the holidays, so I have this new body and I'm ready to go.'
Precisely. Jack SHOULD play, although he needs to lower his sights a little. He needs to play because a whole lot of us enjoy watching him. He should play because he just might win a time or two, instead of believing he HAS to win. He still can make cuts, even in the regular-tour majors, and he has every reason to play. The only thing is, he shouldn't be so hard on himself if wins are a little more rare when he walks the fairways nowadays.
That, though, probably isn't Jack Nicklaus. He won't play when he becomes convinced he can't win. But, unlike Palmer, he doesn't believe he will miss it that much.
'I think I could find a way to handle it,' he says with honesty.
'I like to fish and hunt. I enjoy those things, but I never seem to have enough time to do those things. I catch a day here and there. There are a lot of places I haven't gone and a lot of things I haven't done.'
Nicklaus looks back at his life and knows it was golf and time for nothing else.
'All my life, my whole schedule revolved around my next golf tournament,' he said. 'What do I have to do to prepare for it? What do I have to do to prepare my body? What can I do here and now?
'When it happens,' he says, 'I will get plenty of challenge out of other things. As my kids kept me playing when I was ready to slow down in my early 40s, now my grandkids come along and they play golf and say, `Hey grandpa, take us to the golf course!
'So you never know. Life changes, and I change with it.'
This grandpa sounded pretty convincing. You know, he just might really do it. But perform in a regular golf tournament, just so people can see the swing, see him? No, that just isn't Jack Nicklaus.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.