Nicklaus Watson Share Skins Lead

RSS

2005 WendyWAILEA, Hawaii -- Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson grabbed a share of the front-nine lead in the Champions Skins Game on Saturday, teaming for two skins to match defending champions Raymond Floyd and Dana Quigley at $60.000.

The duos of Arnold Palmer-Loren Roberts and Gary Player-Jay Haas were shutout in the four-team, alternate-shot event. With no one able to capture the last five skins, the par-4 10th will be worth six skins and $220,000 Sunday.

Nicklaus got his team on the board early, sinking a 4-foot birdie putt on the first hole to pick up $30,000. The sun-soaked crowed roared for the Golden Bear.

His putt was setup by a solid second shot by Watson. Nicklaus paid his teammate back two holes later by hitting a wedge to 3 1/2 feet, setting up an easy birdie.

The two skins gave Nicklaus a record 89 in his career. He earned 60 on the front nine.

Nicklaus, who will be 67 on Jan. 21, said he has all but abandoned playing golf, but his irons showed virtually no signs of rust. He and Watson were first in on five of the holes on the front nine, but were matched on Nos. 2, 7 and 8.

With the second hole carried over, Quigley holed a 6-footer on the par-3 third for birdie to win two skins and $60,000. The putt was set up by a 5-iron shot by Floyd.

But Nicklaus-Watson won the next hole to regain a share of the lead.

The players were loose and laughing as they strolled around the Wailea Golf Club's Gold Course, a scenic layout that features ancient Hawaiian rock walls and 93 bunkers. The 6,833-yard course is built on the slopes of the dormant volcano Haleakala and has views of the rolling, green hills on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

The eight invitees have combined to win 553 tournaments worldwide -- including 46 majors -- and nearly $104 million. Nicklaus alone owns 18 major titles. Quigley, Roberts and Haas do not have any.

Roberts, who won four Champions Tour events last year, almost made a spectacular putt on No. 7 with three skins and $100,000 on the line. He threw his waved his arms in the air and spun around after his 45-foot birdie try lipped the cup.

Player tapped in to halve the hole with Nicklaus-Watson.

The 77-year-old Palmer was the crowd favorite and drew cheers with his surprising strong drive on No. 9.

'This gives me an opportunity to get my heart beating a little bit and have some fun,' said Palmer, who won the event in 1990, '92 and '93.

Last year, Floyd made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole for nine skins and $410,000 to give him and Quigley a total of 10 skins and a record $510,000.

Related Links:

  • Full Coverage - Wendy's Champions Skins Game