No 8 Jacks Major Farewell

By George WhiteDecember 18, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #8Editor's note: is counting down the top 10 stories from the 2005 golf season. This is Story No. 8.
For the final act, there was a birdie, of course. Jack Nicklaus had just stroked his tee shot on the final hole at St. Andrews. He had wedged it up to 6 feet. And then, just he has done countless times in his storied 43-year career ' he stroked it softly, perfectly along a slightly winding path, into the heart of the cup.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus wipes away tears at this year's Masters, site of six of his 18 major wins.
I knew that the hole would move wherever I hit it, said Jack. I always make it on the 18th.
He made them often enough to get 73 PGA Tour wins, 10 more on the Champions Tour and 11 more international victories. He is easily the all-time leader in major championships with 18. Many call him the greatest player of all-time.
But this year might have been the most profound of his long career. This was the year that he said goodbye to the Masters and British Open. And, it is the year of one of the biggest heartbreaks of his life. In this his 65th year, he lost a grandson, 17-month-old Jake Nicklaus, in a drowning accident.
Jake, who was the son of Steve and Krista Nicklaus, died March 1 after wandering into a hot tub at his parents home. Jack grieved uncontrollably, both for the child and for son Steve.
Nicklaus canceled all appointments and stayed with Steve and Krista virtually nonstop. Golf became their lonely companion for the better part of a month. Finally, Steve suggested that Jack go play in the Masters. Jack, uncertain at first, finally relented and entered the tournament.
I had no intention of playing golf, said Jack as he discussed his improbable appearance at Augusta. But I've been playing golf and I'm not doing anything else and - Steve and I talked about it, he says, Go play.
He says, You want to play anyway.
I said, I want to play, but I don't have much of a golf game.
'He said, You'll have a golf game.
So I'm here. That's why I'm playing. I feel like, you know, next year is going to be tougher than this year to try to get a golf game ready, and this year, I can't say it's going to be much of a golf game, but it's going to be what I've got.
Nicklaus, of course, was correct. He shot 77 and 76, though that was good enough to beat 13 players, among them Nick Price, John Daly, Ted Purdy, Paul Casey and Ian Woosnam.
This will be my last time, somewhere in my head believing that I might be able to shoot a reasonable round of golf, Jack said. But then, he left a sliver of doubt.
You know, I may come back in five years, I may come back in 10 years and decide I want to go tee and up and play - I can do that, he said.
Jack would have liked to have finished his second round ' what probably was his final round at Augusta - on the 18th hole. But he didnt ' he finished on the ninth since he had to start the round on the 10th hole. Mother Nature was the culprit, playing havoc with the tee times with stop-and-start rains throughout the first two days.
Nicklaus obviously had a few quiet thoughts. He had won this tournament six times during his career, and now he was about to end that career.

This was going to be the last time I was going to walk up the fairway, he explained. I just said, you know - obviously, I had made up my mind. This is just too tough for me. I just cannot do this.
(Son) Jackie, he's with me, and he says, Oh, come on dad, let's make another birdie. Come on dad, let's make another birdie.
Alas, it wasnt to be. Jack hit his approach to 5 feet, but to the consternation of everyone, his putt slid by the hole. But Augusta had the chance to say goodbye, and that was what was important. And Nicklaus realized it.
Jack Nicklaus
Two of Nicklaus' three British Open victories cames at St. Andrews.
It was really getting the round over with, getting here and enjoying it, enjoying the moment, saying goodbye and do it properly, he said. I don't know what proper is, but do it properly and do it where you can enjoy it, the people enjoy it, the people know you're saying goodbye. Just do it without making a fool out of yourself.
Then, in what was a goodbye scene for the entire world, Jack played for the final time in the British Open at St. Andrews. This one was planned both by Nicklaus and by the Royal & Ancient. The group moved the rotation up a year to allow St. Andrews to be the course for Jacks finale, and Nicklaus graciously consented to allow golf fans from around the world to see him play one final time.
He put together rounds of 75-72 at the hallowed grounds, missing the cut this time by only two shots. Once again he beat some pretty famous golfers, among them Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Chad Campbell, Mike Weir, Shigeki Marayuma
And, in an entirely fitting tribute to an outstanding career, Nicklaus finished with a birdie at this major championship which he has won three times.
By then, the world knew that Jack had missed the cut. Nicklaus knew it, too, after he bogeyed the difficult 17th, the infamous St. Andrews Road Hole. And that was the first time that I stopped being a golfer, he said. I should stop being a golfer more often, because I birdied the last hole.
But then I just sort of let my emotions go with it. The people were fantastic. Actually, as I was coming down the last few holes, I'm sitting there saying, Man, I don't want to go through this again. Maybe it's just as well I miss the cut. I said, I think these people have been wonderful. They've given of themselves and gave me a lot more than I deserved. I'm probably better off getting out of here.
Obviously I kept trying to do the best I could.
And it was entirely fitting that Tiger Woods won the British on Jacks last stand. Woods has been the main threat to Nicklaus 18 majors, and this was Tigers 10th. He paused to remember Nicklaus, and to pay tribute to the mans great major-championship record.
It's going to take a long time to win 18 major championships, said Tiger. More importantly, what did he finish - 56, 54 times in the top three or top five, whatever it was, 19 seconds.
I think that's more impressive than 18 wins. He's been there that many times. And there's no player that's ever played the game that's been that consistent in the biggest events than Jack.

And when it was over, when the throngs at St. Andrews had finally quieted and Nicklaus had gone on his way with wife Barbara, he had a moment to reflect on a career that has lasted more than four decades. Did it go fast?

Far too fast, said Jack. I think we all say that.
There isn't one person in this room that wishes we were back 20 or 30 years. I'd be very surprised. But I don't want to do it again. I kind of enjoyed what I did. I don't know whether I'd be as successful today going out there or not, playing against those guys. I think I would. That's the way I'd feel. But who knows?
As I say, once you've got it in the bank, win those few tournaments, that's pretty good. People have asked me what would you want to do differently, and I can't think of anything, frankly, except have my wife dress me better in 2000.
Yes, it was over. Nicklaus will now concentrate on his course-design business, on his passions of fishing and hunting, on the business of just being a doting father and grandfather. And what would he like his legacy to be, an inquiring sportswriter wanted to know?
Well, I don't know. I think you guys will probably determine that, Nicklaus said.
I'm not really concerned about what my legacy is in relation to the game of golf, frankly. I'm more concerned about what my legacy is with my family, my kids and my grandkids. That's by far more important to me. If I've done it properly out here and I can hold my head up to my kids and grandkids, that's the most important thing.
The year 2005 is the year that we can finally turn out the lights on Jack Nicklaus career. And that career is one that may never again be duplicated.
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • Jack Nicklaus' Bio
  • Masters Tournament Coverage
  • Open Championship Coverage
  • Own an exclusive Linda Hartough print of No. 16 at Augusta National
  • Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

    After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

    Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

    The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

    Getty Images

    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    Getty Images

    LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

    The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

    The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

    The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.