Legends Have It

By Rex HoggardJune 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' Nearly an hour after the cameras and microphones had been switched off Jack Nicklaus was still perched against a wall in the Memorial press center answering questions.
 
Every question, no matter how inane, deserved an answer. Its a circle of life thing ' kids need heroes, late night needs Letterman, and, as Wednesdays skins match proved, Tiger Woods needs Nicklaus.
 
Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus
Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus played alongside one another Wednesday. (Getty Images)
More so than any other player, living or dead, active or perched on a couch, Nicklaus is Woods ultimate litmus test even some 30 years removed from the formers prime.
 
It wasnt Arnold Palmers 62 PGA Tour titles or Byron Nelsons 11 consecutive victories streak pinned to the Southern California prodigys bedroom wall. It was Nicklaus 18 major door prizes that turned the skinny kid into Superman. And Wednesdays skins match between Woods, Nicklaus and six others ' no matter how contrived ' showed how much the Golden Bear still means to the games golden child. And how much Nicklaus thinks of the current world beater.
 
When the scribes finally fell silent early Wednesday, Nicklaus took his leave with a wink: Got somebody to grill this afternoon. For all of Woods accomplishments, the old man still holds the upper hand on the kid, at least for four more majors.
 
Nicklaus doesnt seek the spotlight nor the rush of competition any longer. That hole has been filled by grandkids and bone fishing and a golf course design business nearly as prolific as his Hall of Fame career. But this was for the good of the tournament. His tournament.
 
So instead of 54 hacking Morgan Stanley executives and clients taking their turn at muddy Muirfield, it was Woods and Nicklaus and an A list supporting cast providing warmth on the coldest of June days.
 
But then, not all exhibitions are created equal.
 
Its a truth that could be seen in the cold wet faces of the thousands who lined the back nine on Wednesday to get a glimpse at silly golf at its finest. Among that group as the rain worsened was Chris Stroud. The third-year PGA Tour pro cut short his practice routine to work his way into the crowd because, Its Jack.
 
Awesome, really special, said Stroud through wide-eyes and an even wider smile. What other sport can you have an all-time great with a future all-time great playing side-by-side. Bowling? Darts? Its just incredible.
 
Nicklaus and Woods will be eternally linked, and whether it was the economy or politics or just good fortune that drew them together for one final lap so be it.
 
Nicklaus may have reluctantly agreed to the outing, but when organizers paired him and Woods in opposite groups the legend big-footed the proceedings as only an 18-time major winner can.
 
They had me paired in the other group and I said, unh-unh, Nicklaus said. I havent played with him for nine years. Ill throw my 98 mph club head speed at him.
 
He knew what he was getting into. Nine holes on one of the Tours longest layouts alongside one of the circuits most pointed trash talkers. And he loved every minute of it ' from his opening drive, which he playfully reckoned travelled about 180 yards, to his two-skin clinching birdie on the groups second hole.
 
Only in golf can generational lines be crossed so seamlessly. Even a semi-aged ace like Nolan Ryan would have little luck against one of todays sluggers, but Wednesdays exhibition was a beautifully blended cross between an all-star game, reunion tour and a water polo match.
 
The course was long and his back cold, but in brief fits and bursts Nicklaus showed that you can remove the legend from competition, but never the competition from the legend.
 
The main similarity I see is they both have the ability to focus in on task, said Stewart Cink, the cellophane man in Wednesdays marquee four-ball. Whether its on Wednesday at a charity event like this or on Sunday at a major championship, they both just lock in on the shot and do what they have to do.
 
This was challenging for Jack, to hit good drives just to get to the fairways. He only missed one fairway. To see him lock in, its very reminiscent to what Tiger does.
 
Although hes not one to get lost in nostalgia, even Woods recognized the significance of Wednesdays game. Before the match he recounted his first round with Nicklaus, a practice outing at Augusta National before the 1996 Masters.
 
You know, tall, thin looking 1-iron kid. Arnold birdied the last hole to take all the skins, Woods remembered. I remember Jack not being happy about that. And basically said, let's go get Arnold on the Par 3 course. But I don't have a tee time. He said, We'll work it out. For them to invite me to play basically 27 holes with them, certainly a day I'll never forget.
 
The last time the two were paired together was at the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla. Knowing Nicklaus needed something special on his 36th hole to make the cut, Woods pushed as only a fellow immortal could, Hey Jack, lets finish the right way.
 
On Wednesday it was Woods who saved his dramatics for the closing credits, a chip that trundled across the 18th green and into the hole for four skins and the title. It surprised no one, least of all Nicklaus.
 
Didn't surprise me. Didn't surprise him. When you look at it, he just said, Oh, OK, Nicklaus said.
 
In the end, Nicklaus applauded the galleries, who braved temperatures that never got higher than 50 degrees and a steady rain. Day like today, I wouldnt have been out there. Not even to watch Nicklaus and Tiger, he said.
 
He would have missed a historic show.
 
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  • Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

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    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.