Jack From Competitor to Ceremonial Golfer

By Associated PressMay 31, 2005, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- If he could write the script to the end of his storied career, Jack Nicklaus wouldnt just walk across the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews on Sunday, it would be late in the afternoon, and the engraver already would be etching his name on the silver claret jug.
He gazed out at some three dozen reporters Tuesday morning and knew what was coming.
Stop laughing, Nicklaus said, unable to contain his own smile.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack's last farewell came earlier this year at Augusta National.
The final chapter could have been written long ago, and Nicklaus, 65, wishes he had a mulligan.
The real script of going out would have been to say goodbye in 86 at Augusta, he said of his sixth victory in the Masters, and 18th professional major. Thats probably what I should have done. If I had any common sense, I would have said goodbye there.
Jack is still here.
He was on the practice range at Muirfield Village late Monday afternoon with swing coach Jim Flick standing behind him. Nicklaus poured all his concentration into every shot, taking his time over each one, as if a major championship was riding on the outcome. His head tilted ever so slightly just before taking the club back, a signature move that allowed him a full turn. Inevitably, his shoulders slumped when he watched the flight of the ball.
Nicklaus is playing in the Memorial, a tournament he created in 1976, for the 30th consecutive year. When he played in the pro-am Tuesday afternoon, it was his third round since he missed the cut at the Masters and said he would no longer compete at Augusta National.
I dont have a game, he said. You know that.
Nicklaus has been saying that for years.
What troubles him is that he doesnt have a plan.
The British Open will be his last major championship, and Nicklaus said he has no intention of playing any more tournament golf. But in the same breath, he reserved the right to play in the Memorial as a past champion (1977 and 1984) and as the host of one of the best PGA Tour events of the year.
But if Nicklaus is done with tournament golf after the British Open, and he decides to play in the Memorial next year or any year thereafter, then by his own definition he will become a ceremonial player.
And thats the one thing he never wanted to be.
Some might argue he already is.
Realistically, the best I can do would be probably make the cut or something, and that would be about it, Nicklaus said. Thats not really competitive. I wish I could answer your question, because I cant answer it myself. I cant answer in my own mind what I want to do.
Arnold Palmer had ceremonious farewells from the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 1994, and twice from the Masters, the final occasion coming last year in his 50th appearance. He posed atop the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews in 1995, the last year he was eligible for the British Open.
Nicklaus has never been about ceremony, only competition.
He also is vastly different from Palmer in the amount of golf he plays when the ropes are down and the gallery gone. Palmer plays as often as he can. Nicklaus doesnt know what recreational golf is.
I like tournament golf, Nicklaus said. Thats what I do. I love to go out and prepare to do something. When Im not preparing to do anything, what am I doing out there?
Still, it would be easier to walk away for good if not for the occasional hope. He played Friday at the Bears Club in south Florida, where the greens were running about 14 on the Stimpmeter, and shot 70. His other round since the Masters was Sunday at Muirfield Village, and he shot 74 with a triple bogey on his card.
If I went out there and in preparation was shooting 80-something, I would say Im not even going to bother to play, Nicklaus said. While I have some semblance of a game, Im going to say, OK, Im going to play. But Im going to say bye at the same time while I still have that.
I dont want to be shooting 85 when Im saying goodbye.
Then again, Nicklaus has never been big on goodbyes. Even on the day he shot 30 on the back nine at Augusta National and won his sixth green jacket at age 46, someone asked him about retirement.
Maybe I should go out on a win like this, he said that Sunday afternoon. Maybe I should just say goodbye. Maybe that would be the smart thing to do. But Im not that smart.
Now, he grits his teeth when players congratulate him for making the cut, as they did last year at the Memorial. He wont play just to satisfy the nostalgic whim of the fans.
I cant please anybody if I cant please myself, he said.
If Im shooting 85, I cant possibly be pleasing anybody else. Somebody has come in'whatever it cost them to buy a ticket'to watch Jack Nicklaus play golf, Id like to have them see Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus gets rousing ovations wherever he goes, primarily out of admiration, partially because no one is sure if they will see him again. He expects to get the royal treatment at St. Andrews, but only because thats the nature of the British fans.
Theyve always accepted me as a golfer, and thats what I wanted to be accepted as, he said. Hopefully, thats what I was.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

"I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.