Know Jack: Mom, Marilyn and the '86 Masters

By Mercer BaggsApril 4, 2017, 2:30 pm

Marilyn Hutchinson looked up and she was gone. A sight to see, a 78-year-old woman racing up a hill to the 17th hole at Augusta National to watch her 46-year-old son try and win the Masters.

“She had her adrenaline flowing,” Marilyn says. “I turned around and she was gone. She wasn’t gonna miss a moment.”

Helen Nicklaus was attending her first Masters since her first Masters. She, Jack Nicklaus’ sister Marilyn and future wife Barbara all made the trip to Augusta in 1959. Helen and Marilyn hadn’t since been back – it was always more of a boy’s trip, one for Jack’s dad, Charlie, who died in 1970, and his gang.

But, because she wasn’t sure how many more opportunities she’d get, Helen told her son: “I think I’d like to go to the Masters one more time before I pass."

Let's make it the next one, Jack told her. The next one being in 1986.

As usual, it was a family affair for the Nicklaus’ at a major. But it wasn’t the usual crew. The three ladies were there, as were two of Marilyn’s sons, Steve, then 12, and Bobby, 19, and her husband, Howdy – the Hutchinson family and Mom having driven from Ohio. Uncle Frank and Aunt Rachel were there, and so was son Jackie – his first turn as caddie at the Masters.


Jack: A collection of Nicklaus stories


But son Gary was back home in Florida. Son Steve was working in Mississippi. And daughter Nan flew to Dallas to be with friends. After all, who wins the Masters in their mid-40s?

To look back on it now, you’d have to credit fate as playing a key role in Jack’s 18th and final major victory. But nobody was thinking about it at the time.

As legendary golf stories go, this one might be the easiest for golf fans to detail. Who among us hasn’t read or seen or heard everything that has been made available?

  • The poor play leading into the event.
  • The Tom McAllister newspaper clipping proclaiming Jack’s demise pinned to his rental home fridge by friend John Montgomery.
  • The MacGregor Response ZT 615 putter.
  • Trailing by six entering the final round.
  • The phone call to Steve in which father and son felt 65 was the winning number.
  • “How far do you think a 3 would go here?”
  • “Be right.” “It is.”
  • “Maybe … Yes, sir!”
  • Jack’s company having redesigned the 18th green at Augusta National so he was well aware of the speed he needed to hit his 40-foot approach putt to secure par – and a 65.

Gary was about to go scuba diving with friends that Sunday afternoon. He had pulled out the boat when his dad birdied the ninth. They decided to watch Nos. 10 and 11. When he birdied the 11th, Gary told one of his buddies to put the boat up.

Steve was watching from a clubhouse in Hattiesburg, Miss., where he was helping run the opposite-field [and then-unofficial] Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic.

Nan, a University of Georgia student, less than two hours from Augusta, was watching with about 15 of her friends at an SMU apartment.

Unfortunately for Uncle Frank and Aunt Rachel, they decided to beat traffic and left at the turn.

The rest of the family in attendance watched Jack finish out and embrace Jackie. After signing his card, father and son went to Jones Cabin to see how the event would play out.

Now you might not know this, but Jack is superstitious. He gets that from his mom. Jack missed the cut in his first Masters, that one time Helen had attended. She didn’t want to jinx him in the future.

“I’m sitting down and I’m watching [Greg] Norman make birdie after birdie after birdie comin’ home,” Nicklaus says. “And I said, ‘I can’t sit here.’ I says, ‘I’m bringing too much good luck.’ I don’t ever want to wish anyone bad luck, but I don’t wanna really give him good luck.”

So Jack got up and walked behind a couch. Tom Kite missed a 12-footer for birdie to tie on the 18th. And Norman, tied for the lead on the 72nd hole, pushed his approach shot into the gallery and made bogey.

Jack had his sixth green jacket and, for the first time, Mom and Sis were able to witness.

“She was elated,” Marilyn says. “He had given her a gift she’d never forget.”

After more hugs and tears, and the jacket ceremony and news conference, the family was invited to dinner in the clubhouse. Marilyn had to find jackets for the boys.

“It was phenomenal,” Barbara says. “It was just a happy, happy, happy evening.”

And as Marilyn says about the car ride back home that Monday: “We were happy and singing and living the day.”

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

Getty Images

PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm