A Major Send-Off for Nicklaus

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Of all the moments that have defined the incomparable career of Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the most shocking display of emotion showed just how much he loves St. Andrews.
 
His idol, Bobby Jones, always said that a great career was not complete without winning the British Open at the home of golf, and Nicklaus was desperate to capture the claret jug on the Old Course. He had a one-shot lead over Doug Sanders on the final hole of the 1970 playoff when Nicklaus smashed his drive over the 18th green.
 
Sanders played a bump-and-run to 5 feet, and Nicklaus chipped down to 8 feet. He crouched over the birdie putt, frozen until he was ready, then watched the ball curl in the right side of the cup.
 
Nicklaus is famous for raising his left hand and the putter when he makes a crucial putt.
 
This one was much bigger. He thrust his arm skyward and leapt with such force that his putter went airborne, causing Sanders to duck.
 
``I had never shown emotion like that before, and it was totally out of character,'' Nicklaus later said. ``But then, I had never before won the oldest golf championship in the world at the cradle and home of the game.''
 
It wasn't the only time he lost control on the Old Course.
 
Leading by two shots playing the 18th hole in 1978, tears began to fill his eyes as he walked toward the green and saw thousands of fans lining the fairways and crammed into balconies. His caddie, Jimmy Dickinson, had to jab him in the ribs to remind him there was still some golf left before he held the claret jug.
 
Nick Price remembers that moment. He was 21, playing in his second British Open, and had finished in a tie for 39th about two hours earlier. Price stuck around, wanting to watch Nicklaus finish.
 
``When he walked off the 18th green, there was a tear in his eye,'' Price said. ``I thought, 'Why is he crying? Why is he so emotional?' Only after a period of 15 years playing in the Open championship do you realize how special St. Andrews is. I understand very well now why he was so emotional about it.''
 
The most poignant moment awaits.
 
Sometime next week -- possibly on Friday, preferably on Sunday -- Nicklaus will cross the Swilcan Bridge down the 18th fairway at St. Andrews and wave goodbye to the greatest championship career golf has ever seen. He has said the 134th British Open will be his final appearance at a major.
 
Nicklaus can think of no better place to end his career.
 
``The reception every time I've ever played in Scotland, the people have always accepted me as I went around,'' Nicklaus said. ``It's been fun, a great experience for me every time I've gone there. I thought that was my place to want to finish up playing golf.''
 
Nicklaus calls himself a sentimental fool and expects emotions he has never felt before. He was in St. Andrews two months ago and walked onto the first tee and over toward the 18th green, breathing the wind off St. Andrews Bay and seeing the hotels and shops lining the tiny street next to the fairway.
 
Even then, his eyes welled up with tears.
 
``It just sort of gets me every time I go there,'' Nicklaus said. ``Just because what it has meant to the game of golf, and what it has meant to me.''
 
Tiger Woods is pursuing Nicklaus' benchmark of 18 professional majors, and might one day catch him. Still, it is difficult to conceive of another player dominating the four Grand Slam events the way Nicklaus did.
 
Only four other men have won all four professional majors -- the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. Nicklaus is the only one to have captured them all at least three times.
 
``He always showed up with the intent of winning,'' Woods said.
 
This will be his 164th start in a major, including 146 in a row from the 1962 Masters through the 1998 U.S. Open. And while his 18 majors define his career, even more staggering is that Nicklaus was a runner-up 19 times.
 
``He made it special, the way he played the game,'' Scott Hoch said. ``If he can't compete, then it's not worth playing for him. Jack is all about competition, and that's the way a warrior should be.''
 
Nicklaus is eligible to play the Masters as long as he likes, although he said in April he would no longer compete at Augusta National. Those close to Nicklaus do not expect him to change his mind next year.
 
As a former British Open champion, he is eligible to play until he is 65. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club recognized this was his last year of eligibility, so it changed the rotation to make St. Andrews the host course in 2005, one year ahead of schedule. But there are no tributes planned to mark Nicklaus' farewell.
 
``Jack is not one for that sort of thing,'' R&A executive Peter Dawson said earlier this year. ``He'd rather be treated like a competitor than a monument.''
 
In some ways, it is fitting that Nicklaus go out at the British Open.
 
He has won the Masters (six times), the U.S. Open (four times) and the PGA Championship (five times) as often as any other player, while 10 players have won more than his three British Open titles.
 
Even so, his performance at golf's oldest championship reveals a record that is unrivaled.
 
Not only was he a seven-time runner-up, Nicklaus went through a 15-year stretch in which he never finished worse than a tie for sixth in the British Open.
 
``For some reason, I went to the British Open and every year I felt like I was going to win; or if I didn't win, I was going to be right there. And I was,'' Nicklaus said. ``I just like the way they played the game.''
 
Nicklaus stopped playing a full schedule in 2000, the last time he played all four majors. He has made the cut only twice on the PGA Tour since then, both times at the Memorial.
 
But he has high hopes for St. Andrews. Even though Nicklaus introduced power to the modern game, the Old Course is a links course that doesn't demand strength to keep up with kids half his age.
 
``Realistically, I could do fairly well at St. Andrews,'' Nicklaus said. ``That's what I'd like to do.''
 
What motivates him to play well at St. Andrews, and why he wants to end his major championship career at the home of golf, are the people that come to watch him play. They appreciate good golf shots, not just big stars, in Scotland.
 
Nicklaus felt that warmth when he first came over to Scotland for the Walker Cup in 1959, and at Royal Troon in 1962 for his first British Open, and especially in 1964 for his first trip to St. Andrews, where he wound up on the windy side of the draw and finished second to the late Tony Lema.
 
``They understand their golf,'' he said. ``They appreciate something that's being done, and done well. Maybe as time went on, they embraced me a little bit more, simply because I guess I was more successful.''
 
Price can only hope he can be standing on the 18th again when Nicklaus finishes the tournament.
 
``This is the passing of an era,'' Price said. ``I don't think anyone's ever done as much for the British Open as Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer took it to a level and made an awareness around the world, but Jack really took it further and made it a phenomenal championship.''
 
Nicklaus never has been one for a ceremonial farewell, although he understands the relationship with Scottish fans is different. They embraced him as a 24-year-old with a crew cut and indomitable will, and they will embrace him as an aging champion in his final major.
 
``They've always accepted me as a golfer, and that's what I wanted to be accepted as,'' Nicklaus said. ``Hopefully, that's what I was.''
 
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    M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

    Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

    Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

    Marina Alex was second after a 68.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

    Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

    It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

    The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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    Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

    Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

    When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

    It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

    Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

    Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.