Nicklaus Thrilled to Be Just Jack
You might say, as I do, that thats good. You might say thats bad. Until a couple of years ago, Jack really believed he should win every time he put a peg in the ground. Regardless of the level of competition, regardless that he was creeping up on age 60 or over, regardless of his physical condition ' Nicklaus thought he should attack like the Nicklaus of 30 years ago attacked. There was no concession given to competition, age or physical condition.
This Nicklaus is a pleasure to watch. He still shot par golf for three days at Muirfield Village, which is a course of more than 7,200 yards. Hes 62 and he was playing Tiger and Mickelson and Duval and the cream of the crop on the PGA Tour. And he made the cut, which is a monumental achievement at this age, considering that two weeks ago his lower back was in such pain he could hardly stand up.
That isnt like the Nicklaus of not so long ago. A compliment for a score of 70 would have been met with, Come on, thats not good! Seventy is not a good score! Still reliving the days when he would have shot 65 or 66, Jack just could not accept anything less.
Now, he realizes that he isnt going to win a PGA Tour event, regardless of how well he plays.
I never dreamed that I was going to be playing Saturday and Sunday, he said. I just wanted to be respectable.
And he was that ' after three days, he had the exact same score as one Tiger Woods. The fourth day fatigue finally caught up with him, but the first three, he provoked shouting all the way from Columbus to Cleveland.
Jack has a marvelous sense of humor. Asked about the ovation he received as he walked the incline to the 18th green on the final day, he laughed and said, I just wanted to get up the hill!
Maybe they (the members of the gallery) could push me up the hill ' how about that? The ovation pushed me up the hill.
Is that negativism? Certainly not. Nicklaus still can play a wonderful round of golf. But he cant do it for four days. He has both feet firmly on the ground now, though, and he sees reality a bit more clearly ' the days of Jack the Conqueror are over. The days of Jack the Player certainly are not.
Woods played in a twosome directly in front of Nicklaus Sunday. Of course, Jack couldnt resist sticking in the needle ' just a little. I told him on the tee this morning I was going to make sure to give him a little room, make sure we didnt drive into him, Nicklaus joked.
He hit one of the best shots hes hit in a long time on 18 the first day. For a minute there, it was a 30-year-old Jack swinging the club. Let him describe it:
Eighteen was really fun because probably the best swing I made all day was my 3-wood off the tee, said Nicklaus. I told my caddy, Im going to hold this (next shot) and cut it into the wind. Im going to play a shot the way I used to play shots.
And I did. I put it in about 17, 18 feet. And then I made the putt. I really enjoyed that. I had a 3-wood and a 6-iron. I had about 164 yards and I just cut it into the wind. The wind was actually helping but I worked it back.
I suspect that age has brought on a lot more than just grandchildren ' something that happened to Arnie and Trevino and Player and all the rest of the great ones s happening now to Nicklaus. Nicklaus thoroughly enjoys playing now. That wasnt always so, even into his mid- to upper-50s. But hes come full circle. He said even before his outstanding play this weekend that he plans to play in more Senior Tour events this year. Thats the first time weve heard that.
I want to play ' I dearly love to play, Nicklaus said after the first round.
Im here saying that Im delighted with a 71. Half the field would be chewing their clubs up with a 71. But I really enjoyed that. It was fun. Im obviously glad I played. I dont know what will happen tomorrow, but it doesnt make much difference what happens tomorrow.
Jack Nicklaus is entitled to think like that. He can take great pleasure in good golf in smaller doses now. Hes done it all, set all the records and won all the majors. He wont stand being just a ceremonial golfer, but his idea of what a ceremonial golfer is now and what his idea used to be is slowly coming around to reality.
The world was thrilled to see Nicklaus, and Jack is slowly realizing that he wants to be Nicklaus. And not necessarily the Nicklaus of old.
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:
Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)
What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.
Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.
Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.
Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.
Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:
Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry