Jack Serious about Retirement
A realist knows the reason ' or reasons ' goes much, much deeper. Jack Nicklaus not playing in The Memorial? For the first time in 31 years? Suffering succotash, he must really be serious about this retirement thing!
And he definitely is. Hes 66 years old and he isnt about to go out there and be embarrassed again. He isnt going to shoot 75-77 and then go sit down. He will be at the tournament, he plans to be plenty visible. But hes not going to put his game on display again for the world to see.
Is he really going to skip it for the first time in memory, this tournament which began in 1976 at the site ' Muirfield Village ' that Jack personally purchased?
He answered that question with a little funny. I haven't really played the last three or four years, Jack said with an inward chuckle. But I was here.
Apparently he really has retired, as opposed to Arnold Palmer, who at age 66 was still playing an occasional tournament. Nicklaus didnt play the Masters this year. He has no plans to play any other tour events. In fact, the last tournament in which he participated was the British Open last year.
Jack isnt saying no, definitely not, nada, never again. Even at 66, he reserves the right to play in the Memorial in the future. He isnt about to look foolish should he ever decide to play ' same with the Masters. But on this day, he has no plans to ever grace a tournament field again ' not even as a ceremonial golfer, as he used to describe it. Oh, he might play in the Father/Son tournament, possibly play in a skins game. But not in a full-field event.
I'm used to not playing, Nicklaus said, noting that he genuinely likes the idea of watching from the sidelines. The thought of entering the Memorial briefly entered his mind, he says, but it didnt last long.
Have you seen me play lately? Jack queried a group of disbelieving reporters at his tournament. I won't feel weird at all. It will be a pleasure not to play. I played Saturday, we had our Memorial club play. I played the back tees on Saturday and I cruised around here with 77, just easy as can be.
Its a far different lifestyle that Nicklaus leads compared to when he was still a player. And ' he loves it.
I haven't done anything, all I've done is sit around and eat and get fat, that's all, said Nicklaus with a chuckle. I'm enjoying my work. I'm absolutely loving what I'm doing.
I'm traveling twice as much as I ever traveled, going to places I never would have gone to before, doing things that don't require me to make sure that I watch what I do here, and watch what I do this, and make sure that because I've got a tournament coming up, I've got to make sure that I'm building myself for this. I'm kind of enjoying this. I've done that for 40 or 50 years, whatever it was, and I'm enjoying not doing it.
He enjoys being the host at Memorial. He likes to play a casual round or two with the guys, busy himself with all the business details of the tournament.
However, hes played just nine rounds since the British Open last July, and all of those, of course, were for fun only. Walking 18 holes in a tournament would be difficult, he says. Walking any length in golf shoes is difficult, incidentally.
He has a pair of shoes he says he played 25 rounds of golf in, back when he was playing in a tournament every now and then. He wore them at an outing with sponsors last week, and I've got Band Aids on every toe from Saturday. It was ridiculous. I said, What is this?
I had blisters all over the place. It's kind of crazy that you wouldn't think about your feet from that standpoint. Lugging around an extra 15 pounds is not a lot of fun. I've lugged around those pounds for a long time. Obviously if I'm working and all the other things, I'm not walking and doing the things I would to keep in shape.
Jack, though, makes the supreme confession when he admits that, I'd love to still be playing golf, because I love playing golf. Once you can't play, and once you feel like physically you just can't do it, and then you get away from it and all of a sudden you try to play a little bit, and you say, Wow, this is an ordeal.
If I came back, I'd want to be representative at least a little bit to play and enjoy it and not come out here and shoot a pair of 85s and say, Gee, I was a nice host. I'd like to play decent and make the cut and be part of what's going on, or I'm not going to do that. I made the decision next year to be here and be part of it, but I'm not just going to go out and clutter up the field.
Theres considerable debate about whether Jack Nicklaus ever cluttered up a field when he entered a tournament. But, as he says, he will never be just a ceremonial golfer. And it doesnt matter that he would be doing golf a wonderful favor by entering. He wont do it, and thats that. In his life, there just isnt time, anyway.
Before, I just squeezed in some golf, too. But I started here at 11:00 this morning. I didn't do that in previous years. I would come in maybe at another time, prior to our captain's club meeting, but I would have played golf before that, said Jack.
I actually get to sleep this week.
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Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.
On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.
“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.
“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”
Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.
New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.
In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.
Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.
“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”
Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.
His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.
“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”
Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.
That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”
That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.
“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”
Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.
“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.
Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME
Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.
Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)
What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.
Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.
Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.
Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.
Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.
Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.