Memorial One of Jacks Crown Jewels
Even though he seldom returns to his hometown and has designed almost 300 other courses around the world, he still has a special place in his heart for one of his first layouts and the tournament he created.
The Memorial Tournament, which begins Thursday, always draws a glittering field. One reason is that Nicklaus wants the top players to feel the same way he did whenever he came back.
'From Day 1 here, our goal was to make sure that we took care of the players so that when they came here, they felt like they were at home,' Nicklaus said Tuesday before playing in the pro-am. 'Their needs are taken care of from the family standpoint, transportation standpoint, accommodations, child care.'
It might seem incongruous for a multimillionaire athlete and corporate executive to be concerned about having baby sitters available for the children of Ernie Els or Jesper Parnevik. But times have changed, and the Memorial Tournament must compete with the other tournaments on the PGA TOUR rotation to draw the best players.
'I had a couple of players saying, 'We select our tournaments based on the child care,'' Nicklaus said with a grin. 'I said, 'I'm sorry. I beg your pardon?' ... It's different than when we played. We took care of our own kids. One wife would go to the golf course one day and the other wife would go the next day. They'd get to see one or two days. It doesn't happen that way now.'
A winner of 18 major championships, Nicklaus didn't have to concern himself with child care. His wife, Barbara, watched over the five kids while Jack traveled the globe first as a player and then as a course architect.
He didn't build his schedule around amenities, for his family or himself.
'It was always around the golf courses -- the ones that I felt were the greatest challenge,' he said. 'It was built around the majors and then built in between with the ones that I wanted to play that I felt were good golf courses and I would enjoy playing.'
Bob Tway, who won the Memorial Tournament in 1989, said he doesn't pick a tournament because it hands out gift bags, massages, a limo or concert tickets.
'I'm a creature of habit. I've been out here for so long I always play the same ones,' said Tway, who will tee it up for the 19th time at the Memorial Tournament. 'I kind of nail down the places I really enjoy going, the golf courses I really enjoy playing. And I really like this place.'
The Memorial Tournament will draw eight of the top 10 and 39 of the top 50 players on the PGA TOUR money list. Every top player has visited the tournament over its 28 years. Past champions include Tiger Woods (three times), Hale Irwin and Nicklaus (twice each), Jim Furyk, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Vijay Singh.
This year, since there is no conflict with a major European Tour event, many of the world's top players are also visiting the Memorial Tournament. Padraig Harrington, Carlos Franco, Lee Westwood, Jos Maria Olazbal, Bernhard Langer and Sergio Garcia are in the 105-man field, which includes 21 of the top 32 in the world rankings.
Nicklaus created the Memorial Tournament in the image of his favorite tournament, the Masters.
The Masters, started by Bobby Jones, has perpetuated Jones' legacy.
The same will likely be the case for the Memorial Tournament and Nicklaus, long after many of the Golden Bear's records have been surpassed.
Nicklaus, now 63, recognizes that his days as a player are nearing an end. Still, he will tee it up in his tournament -- as he has in the previous 27 -- and hope that his achy back and artificial hips can yield a few more birdies.
As he said before last year's Memorial Tournament, 'I've played every one of them and I don't want to stop now.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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