Barbara Nicklaus gets Bob Jones Award four years after secretly missing out

By Jason SobelJanuary 14, 2015, 7:48 pm

Jack Nicklaus doesn’t make a habit of keeping secrets from his wife. He and Barbara will be married 55 years this July. They have five children and 22 grandchildren. They’ve walked hand in hand through a lifetime in golf. She served as his driving force, shepherding him to so much career success. Their achievements together are only superseded by the memories.

So, no. He doesn’t keep secrets. Except this one, from four years ago.

Jack knew at the time that Barbara was on the ballot for the USGA’s prestigious Bob Jones Award. The organization’s highest honor, the award is annually presented to an individual “who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game” exhibited by the famed Jones. He knew because he had a vote – and yes, like any doting husband, he voted for his wife.

Not that she knew any of this. While Jack’s awards are the stuff of legend – the 18 major championships; the World Golf Hall of Fame induction; the Congressional Gold Medal; heck, he’s even featured on currency in the U.K. – accolades for Barbara have always come in a more unofficial capacity. She had no reason to believe she’d been nominated for this award, no reason to think it could be her year.

And so she was neither disappointed nor surprised when she lost to Annika Sorenstam in a run-off vote. The truth is, she never knew. Her husband might have voted for her, but he kept it a secret.

Until now.

Jack can finally tell Barbara just how close she came to winning four years ago, because she’s been named as this year’s recipient of the award. No more secrets.

“She's been so great to so many people in the game of golf,” Jack said during a Wednesday teleconference. “She's contributed so much to what's gone on with the wives and Tour wives and the advice she's given to all the young girls coming out and the kids she's been involved with, the charities she's been involved with.”

The award comes exactly four decades after it was bestowed upon her husband – during the year of his 13th and 14th major titles – and Barbara will not only join an elite list of those who plied their craft inside the ropes, but one which also includes presidents and entertainers.

“Wow,” she was quoted as exclaiming to the USGA upon hearing the news. “What a truly humbling honor.”

Jack undoubtedly held no surprise at the reaction. As he said: “Barbara is one person that is never on her own mind. It's always somebody else and what can I do for them. That's the amazing part about her.”

For those out there – doesn’t there always have to be a few obtuse killjoys in the mix? – who insist that the woman often referred to as “The First Lady of Golf” has no business being mentioned with the game’s greats, allow her husband to serve as the first line of defense against that debate.

For him, she owned multiple roles besides being his wife.

Like sports psychologist …

“She was the person that I bounced everything off of. My father passed away at a relatively early age. I used to bounce a lot of things off of my dad and get his advice, and when my dad passed, Barbara became sort of my confidant. … I didn't always take her advice, as she will say, but I certainly listened to her, because she's a devil of a lot smarter than I am.”

… and swing guru …

“I walked off the practice tee one day, and she said, ‘Well, I see you fixed your crooked backswing.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘I don't know, but it looks different, and now it looks normal.’ I figured out what she was talking about, even though she didn't really know anything about the game of golf at that point in time.”

Jack’s stories about Barbara can stretch back more than a half-century or just mere hours.

On Wednesday, he related a story from the night before. He’d been watching his alma mater Ohio State play basketball on television and asked her to join him. She did – but for only a few minutes before she needed to craft a few handwritten notes.

“That's just constantly what she does,” he said. “She's always trying to do something for somebody else.”

This time around, it will be Barbara in the spotlight, not beaming in the background as she so often has over the years. She won’t be doing something for somebody else. She will be on the receiving end of the USGA’s most prestigious honor.

Four years ago, her husband kept this possibility a secret. That secret is out. Now it will be Jack silently beaming in the background while The First Lady of Golf finally earns some official recognition.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.