Shooting the Breeze with Jack

By Rich LernerDecember 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: Golf Channel reporter Rich Lerner spent some time recently with Jack Nicklaus at The Del Webb Father/Son Challenge at ChampionsGate, Fla. Here is part of their casual conversation.
RL: You were always known as an intimidating player. Who was the most intimidating opponent for you to handle?
JN: (Lee) Trevino was probably the most intimidating player for the simple reason that he talked all the time. You could never get away from him. As a result you were thinking about him and he wanted you to think about him. That was an intimidating factor to me.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus' final major was in the 2005 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
RL: How intimidating is Tiger (Woods)?
JN: Tiger doesnt even have to play well. He just has to show up and be near the lead. Everybody gets intimidated just by the name Tiger. I dont think anybody does it on purpose. I dont think anyone is trying to intentionally do something. I certainly never did. The only thing I did was try to play the best I could. If that was intimidating then its intimidating. I dont think Tiger tries to do anything. He just does it. Arnold (Palmer) was just loved by the people. Trevino? He just liked to talk. You have to remember that golf is really an individual game. You cant control anything but yourself so you have to go out and control your own emotions and control your own inner self and stay focused on what youre doing.
RL: This April will be the 10-year anniversary of Tigers 1997 Masters win. What do you remember about that?
JN: I remember he shot 40 for the first nine holes and I guess I was driving to the airport after the last round and heard that he was making birdie after birdie after birdie. And I said, 'Well, I guess my (tournament scoring) records gonna go,' and just went on to the airport.
RL: Where do you think hes headed?
JN: The way he plays and as good as he is and with his work ethic who knows what his limits are? I think his limits are only what he wants to make them. Hes a good kid. He handles himself well. Hes considerate of the other guys. He doesnt try to intimidate anybody. He just does it with his golf game, with his golf clubs. Thats where he does his talking. And I think thats the way it should be done. Hes as good as Ive ever seen.
RL: Ive always wondered about the pose you struck on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach at the 2000 U.S. Open when you sat on the fence.
JN: I said, 'Id like to have a picture of me on the 18th tee.' Seriously, thats exactly what I thought: Id like to have a picture of me on the 18th hole! I said, 'Somebody will get a good picture of this. That will be my last hole at the US Open.' And they did. And thats the picture everybody ran. But the funny part about it is I never planned anything in my life that way. But I did. I said, 'I think Ill walk over and sit down and theyll get a good picture of this and I think one leg should be up,' and I choreographed it perfectly and got a nice picture. I just wanted it for me. I didnt really want it for the world, but it was OK!
RL: What about your farewell at St. Andrews last year when you stopped to wave on the Swilcan Bridge?
JN: I was gonna do that. That was one I couldnt avoid, but that was also a great picture. There was a friend of mine who took this picture down to get it framed. Now, you want to talk about an experience to bring you back down to earth. He went back down and said Id like to get the picture back and the guy said, 'You mean the one with the man in front of the house?' That was the description of the picture: Man in front of house!
RL: Not 'Legend at Old Course'?
JN: No, 'Man in front of house'!
RL: What are your favorite holes in golf?
JN: Holes that meant a lot to me. Fifteenth at Augusta; 16th at Augusta; 13th at Augusta; 12th (at Augusta) -- those are all favorite holes of mine because I played them well and they were strategic holes for me. The eighth hole at Pebble -- that whole stretch has always been one of my favorites. I love the 14th hole at Murifield Village, a little short par-4. I think its spectacular. I always loved the 10th at Riviera, a little short par-4. Ive copied the idea of that hole 20 times on golf courses. Its a wonderful strategic, little golf hole. The 18th at Riviera Ive always liked. Its an uphill, blind tee shot just like the eighth hole at Pebble -- a lousy tee shot but a wonderful second. Ive always loved the scene coming up the 18th at Baltusrol. There are certain shots that you like and certain scenes that are part of your career and part of your life, like the 18th and 17th at St. Andrews. I mean the 18th at St. Andrews is a nothing golf hole but what it is, where it is, and all the things that happened there, all that makes it spectacular. I mean the 17th, the shot into the Road Hole is one of the toughest shots there is. I love the little par-3, the 12th hole at Lytham; its one of my favorites. Ive copied the theory of that hole many times. I like the collection bunker there.
RL: Whats your view of 17 at Pebble, where you hit flag in the 72 Open?
JN: Seventeen at Pebble Beach to me was a hole where you were not necessarily rewarded for what you did. You had to get a little bit lucky. My ball had to hit the pin. It could have gone through the green. That was a wonderful golf shot but I couldve been penalized by it. And to me, I like a hole where you get actually what youve done and not where you can end up with a screwy result. I dont like screwy results.
RL: Speaking of screwy results, Carnousties back in the major rotation next summer. It doesnt get any screwier than 1999, does it?
(Jack shakes his head and raises his eyes skyward.)
JN: I talked to Jean (Van de Velde) about it afterwards and I said, 'Jean why?' and he said, 'Its just a golf tournament,' and I said, 'Jean, its not just a golf tournament; this is your life, this is your career.' And he sort of took a lighthearted approach to it. He picked the wrong club off the tee and got away with it. Now all hes got to do is take a 9-iron and a 9-iron and win by three strokes. You talk about giving away a tournament! That was the worst display of giving away something Ive ever seen. I feel badly for him. He lost his place in history. Or maybe he gained a place in history, I dont know?
RL: Who were the greatest characters in the game when you played?
JN: (Sam) Snead was a character. He was a piece of work. Trevino was a real piece of work. Gary was a piece of work. I suppose we all are in ways. There wasnt more of a character than Lee Trevino. Lees wonderful. I love Lee. Hes a terrific guy and the older hes gotten, the better hes gotten as a personality and a person. But the things he used to say to people? Ohhhhh! He was the only guy in the world who could get away with it! He was wonderful.
RL: Any stories?
JN: Nothing you could put on the air.
RL: We dont seem to see as many characters today.
JN: I think the guys today travel with their business agents, their fitness guy, their mind guru and their teacher. Theyve got their entourage. When we started out on tour I mean, sure, I had a plane, Ive had it since my second year on tour, but we used to go to motels and wives would look after other wives kids while they went and watched their husbands play and the next day theyd switch around. Nowadays, guys pick their courses based on how good the day care center is. I mean this is ridiculous. We took care of our kids. Thats the way it is today. They have everything handed to them and as a result, I dont think you become much of a character.
RL: Curious, what do you think of Johnny Miller as an announcer?
JN: I sit down with him a lot and talk to him about it. He says, I just say it like I see it, and I say Yeah, but dont be rude; be a little careful of somebodys feelings with what you say. Youre supposed to call it the way you see it, thats your job, thats why you get good ratings, but be careful. And Johnny says, Youre right. I think Johnny does a good job.
RL: Youre talking about his harsh analysis of Craig Parrys swing at Doral, where he used the word puke?
JN: Thats the kind of stuff Johnny and I have talked about. I say, Johnny, you dont have to say that.
RL: How much did you enjoy your travels with Arnold in your early days?
JN: Arnold and I had some great times traveling through the years. Arnold was great to me when I was young. Arnold had a plane when I first started and we used to travel a lot to play in exhibitions and we got in his Aero Commander 500 and off wed go and the two of us would bounce around in the sky and off wed go to play an exhibition in 30-mile-an-hour winds and laugh about it and get back in the plane and go to the next place.
RL: People might say, 'I thought you were fierce and bitter rivals.'
JN: We were! Even when we got out of the airplane and went and played the round of golf wed try to beat each others brains out. Wed get back in the airplane and had a great time. But thats competition. That was the fun of it.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.