Jack Settles into Retirement

By George WhiteMay 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
A cynic would say that the reason Jack Nicklaus is not playing in his Memorial Tournament this week is because the bunkers are all raked with devilish implements which he designed only this year.
 
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!
 
Jack Nicklaus might have waved goodbye for good at last year's Memorial.
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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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.