Notes Jack Back in 2005

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TROON, Scotland -- Jack Nicklaus stopped in at Royal Troon on Friday and said he wasn't longing to tee it up.
 
'I have no desire to be out there,' Nicklaus said. 'My golf game is certainly not in any shape to play it.'
 
But the three-time British Open champion said he probably would be back next year.
 
Nicklaus turns 65 next year, his final year of eligibility. Knowing that, the Royal & Ancient changed the rotation so the Open would return to St. Andrews in 2005. Nicklaus won two of his claret jugs at the home of golf.
 
'The R&A paid me a compliment when they adjusted the year, and I think it would be a slap in the face if I didn't play. If I'm able, I'll be back.'
 
The Golden Bear had no reason to return to Royal Troon -- and not many fond memories.
 
He lost a ball and took a 10 on the 11th hole and shot 80 in his first British Open appearance. His best finish at Troon was fourth place in 1973, four shots behind wire-to-wire winner Tom Weiskopf. 'Troon was just a course I struggled with a bit,' he said. 'I don't dislike Troon. I like it. It was just a difficult course for me.'
 
ELS, MEEKS MEET
Ernie Els was furious when told that a USGA official suggested he 'gave up' in the final round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
 
'That is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in my life,' Els said. 'I'd like to meet the guy who said that.'
 
And he did.
 
The official was Tom Meeks, senior director of rules and competition who set up Shinnecock Hills. Els was among 28 players who failed to break 80 in the final round.
 
'I really think Ernie Els gave up after the first hole,' Meeks told the Boston Globe.
 
Meeks, working at Royal Troon as a rules official, sought out Els on the practice range Wednesday.
 
'Ernie said, 'I thought we were friends.' And I told him, 'I hope we still are,'' Meeks said. 'I just said, 'Ernie, I was wrong. I shouldn't have said that.' I explained to him it was just a casual remark. And it was just my opinion.
 
'I didn't mean to make it sound like he committed a crime.'
 
Meeks said it was a good conversation and added, 'I think we're OK.'
 
NICE RECOVERY
Brad Faxon opened with a 3-over 74 and already was 3 over Friday through four holes.
 
What was going through his mind?
 
'When that first flight back home is,' Faxon said.
 
But it all turned around with a sand wedge into 3 feet for a birdie on the seventh. Faxon birdied six out of eight holes, shot 31 on the back nine for a 68 and was back in the British Open at even-par 142.
 
'I did a very good job of not trying to make the cut or worrying about the cut or thinking about anything other than just hanging in there,' Faxon said. 'Needless to say, I'm excited, because I haven't had a round like that in a while.I have a chance to get back into the tournament.'
 
DISTRACTIONS
In a comical sequence of distractions on the 10th hole, Tiger Woods was put off by photographers, a camera crew and eventually a train.
 
It started when he wasn't even over the ball, yelling at photographers who shot pictures as Lee Westwood was in the middle of his swing.
 
'C'mon, guys. He's swinging! Show some respect,' Woods said.
 
Then, as he stood over his ball in the rough, Woods backed off when a three-man crew from the BBC walked along the back of the green in his line. He backed off again when he heard a camera click behind him.
 
And just when he was ready to go, Woods backed off a fourth time because the train along the 10th fairway came roaring by. Woods smiled, but by this time, the marshals were so edgy that they cried out, 'Quiet, please!'
 
Of course, the train didn't listen.
 
Once he finally hit the shot, it sailed right of the green into the rough.
 
CASEY'S CRASH
Paul Casey's ride atop the leaderboard at the British Open didn't last long.
 
Casey hit into a pot bunker and made double bogey on the third hole to fall out of the lead, but recovered well and was still among the pack of contenders heading to the back nine.
 
That's when it all came crashing down. He bogeyed three straight holes, then took a double bogey on the 13th for a 40 on the back nine and a 6-over 77.
 
'I just didn't know what to do out there today,' Casey said. 'The golf ball was not going where I wanted it to go. When you play the first three holes, not finding a fairway, you know it's going to be a struggle.'
 
The good news?
 
He was still at 1-over 143, still only eight shots behind.
 
'There's still a chance,' the Englishman said. 'There are low numbers out there.'
 
SCOTTISH ROOTS
Even though he comes from the Great White North and had hopes of playing hockey, former Masters champion Mike Weir has golf in his heritage.
 
His great-grandfather was born in Scotland, and his grandfather made his first hole in one at age 87.
 
'Until he passed away, he carried his bag,' Weir said. 'We used to hustle to catch up to him. He was an amazing guy.'
 
PERRY LEARNS
Kenny Perry went 11 years without playing in the British Open, even some years when he was eligible. That's not all that surprising considering Scott Hoch is among his best friends on tour.
 
Perry had other reasons, however.
 
'I had a young family at the time,' Perry said after a 70 left him four shots out of the lead. 'I didn't want to be too far away from them. They needed me at home. My kids are now 20, 18 and 16. It's freed me up to where I've been able to relax and enjoy my golf the last couple of years.'
 
Perry still has some learning to do on the links.
 
A great reminder came in his first round, when he hit into deep rough and squirted the next one into a bunker.
 
'Up against the face, into the face ... I'm thinking I can't hit it,' he said. 'I hit it at the crowd. All the people were backing up. I was aiming right at them. I hit it into the crowd and had a 70-yard shot, and pitched it to 6 feet. It was the greatest bogey in my life.'
 
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