Nicklaus to Skip US Senior Open
This time, he won't play because he doesn't want to.
Nicklaus missed the deadline for entering the U.S. Senior Open last week and still doesn't know where - or if - he will play the remainder of the 2004 season.
'I have nothing against the Senior Open,' Nicklaus said. 'I have always been very high on the USGA and their championships. Whether it was the U.S. Open or the U.S. Senior Open, they have always been among the most significant championships to me. I just felt that I didn't want to play.'
The subject of Nicklaus retiring has been broached since the Masters, and he said repeatedly that he wasn't going to play much, if at all, the rest of the year.
His last tournament was the Memorial, where he shot 1-under 71 the final day and tied for 63rd.
He has played only six tournaments this year, four of them on the Champions Tour. He withdrew last month from the rain-delayed Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla after rounds 75-70-76.
Nicklaus still is expected to play in the Memorial next year, and possibly two majors - the Masters and the British Open, because Royal & Ancient officials moved the event to St. Andrews for Nicklaus' final year of eligibility.
Every other year, the PGA Championship is two tournaments in one - a major, and the last chance to make the Ryder Cup team. Jeff Maggert showed that in 1997 when he closed with a 5-under 65 at Winged Foot to clinch a spot on the team.
This year, he might not get that chance.
Maggert's wife, Michelle, is pregnant with twins and likely to give birth the week of the PGA Championship.
'The PGA is not looking good on my schedule at this point,' Maggert said. 'If I do play, it will be a situation where I've got a beeper on. And I don't know if I want to put myself through that.'
That makes the next month critical toward his chances. Maggert took a big step last week at the U.S. Open, where he finished third and moved up to No. 10 in the standings.
Despite not having television sponsors for the second straight year, the Masters announced Tuesday it was donating more than $3.2 million to charity, bringing its total the last seven years to $22.2 million.
Masters chairman Hootie Johnson said $1.25 million would be given to a foundation that supports charities in Augusta, Ga., such as the Child Enrichment shelter program for children removed from their homes; and Girls Incorporated, an outreach program that focuses on drug abuse prevention and self-esteem.
Augusta National also is giving $1 million to The First Tee, an initiative to provide affordable access to golf. The rest of the money is going to major golf organizations, the Tiger Woods Foundation and The First Tee of Augusta.
No one was more interested in the return of David Duval than Ian Baker-Finch, also a former British Open champion whose game disappeared until he finally called it quits when he shot 92 in the first round of the '97 British Open at Royal Troon.
Duval played competitively for the first time in seven months at the U.S. Open and opened with an 83.
Baker-Finch was at Shinnecock Hills doing TV work and asked about Duval's round. He was told that Duval looked fine from his approach shots to around the green, but that he was struggling off the tee.
'Yep,' Baker-Finch said, pursing his lips and nodding his head. 'Same as me.'
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are among several players who went to Shinnecock Hills ahead of time to prepare for the U.S. Open.
Strangely, hardly anyone goes to the U.S. Women's Open site ahead of time.
'We have a rule that you can't play there the week before, so I think that prevents the whole deal,' Annika Sorenstam said. 'That means you can't go to the course early because they expect you to play the week before.'
The rule seems outdated, especially since LPGA Tour players now are required to go to every tournament at least once in a four-year cycle.
Then again, nothing would have stopped the women from going to Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass., two weeks before the Women's Open.
Europeans now have gone 34 years without winning the U.S. Open. Sergio Garcia came the closest at Shinnecock, closing with an 80 to finish in a tie for 20th.
Many thought this might be the year to end the drought because Shinnecock is a links-styled course.
Paul Lawrie of Scotland is among those who believe that theory doesn't hold water.
'We play two tournaments a year on links,' Lawrie said, referring to the British Open and the Dunhill Links Championship, a pro-am played on St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kings Barn. 'I don't know why everyone thinks this suits us so well.'
Retief Goosen joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win multiple majors since the start of the 1999 season. ... Twelve players failed to break 300 for a 72-hole score in the U.S. Open. A year ago at Olympia Fields, Ryan Dillon was the only player at 300 or higher. ... The PGA Tour finally announced that the 2005 American Express Championship will be played at Harding Park, a public course in San Francisco. That means California will get two of the three World Golf Championships that count toward official money next year. The other is the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa. ... With two majors out of the way, Phil Mickelson is leading the points-based PGA of American player of the year race with 80 points, followed by Vijay Singh with 62. Tiger Woods is sixth with 36 points. ... The gimmick nature of the setup at Shinnecock Hills has been compared to Carnoustie. The common link - Colin Vernon, who caddied for Paul Lawrie at the '99 British Open and Retief Goosen in the U.S. Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jay Haas might not be the best player to never win a major, but he has had the most chances. The U.S. Open was his 77th appearance in a major.
'I'm glad I'm on this side of the ropes.' - Craig Stadler, after watching his son, Kevin, shoot 85 in the final round of the U.S. Open.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Tiger's driver now a great asset to his game
ATLANTA – Tommy Fleetwood hit a handful of tee shots past Tiger Woods on Thursday at the Tour Championship. But Woods found more fairways [10 to eight] and shot four strokes lower [65 to 69].
Ever since making adjustments to his driver – which included adding loft and changing his shaft – at The Northern Trust, Woods’ long game has become one of his greatest assets.
Woods hit 10 of 14 fairways in the first round at East Lake Golf Club, which led to hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation. Twenty-eight putts equaled a 5-under round and a share of the lead.
It’s not as though Woods has completely traded distance for accuracy. He hit his drive on the par-5 18th 320 yards and that helped produce an eagle.
It’s more like he now has the ability to control his driver. Those wayward tee shots we had become accustomed to seeing aren’t so offline. That means sometimes he’ll send one 296 yards – like he did on the first hole – and sometimes he’ll gear up and knock one 328 yards – like he did at the fifth.
“[I]f I hit it normal, I hit it just as far. And so that's to me like 300 yards in the air,” he said. “But … the neat thing about this one is that if I miss it and spin it a little bit, those spinners stay in play instead of chasing off on me, and I can turn this ball.
“Like the tee shot I hit down 18, I didn't have that shot earlier with – not enough loft. … [M]y spin rate would be so low that it wouldn't stay in the air.”
“And so, yeah, if I hit controlled shots, they're in play and they're shorter. But if I go ahead and step up and launch one, I'm just as far. The neat thing is I don't have to swing it as hard to hit the ball as far. And so it puts a little less toll on my body. I don't have to have my speed up there at 120, 121, 122 miles an hour to carry it 305, 310 like I did before.”
Often times you hear players talk about aspects of their game and it sounds like they are trying to convince themselves that things are OK. Tiger's actions are backing up his words.
TT postscript: This 65 better than Aronimink 62
ATLANTA – The start wasn’t much to look at, but that finish was something else. Tiger Woods eagled the final hole on Thursday and shares the 18-hole lead at the Tour Championship. Here are the things you know you want to know:
• First of all, let’s give a pat on the back to the man who most deserves it today: Me. Early this morning, I sent this tweet:
Less than an hour until tee time. Gotta good feeling about this week. Let’s set the O/U today at 66.5 on the par 70. And then take the under.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) September 20, 2018
Never doubt my good feelings. Ben Crenshaw doesn’t have my good feelings. We may have 54 holes to play, but I gotta good feeling we’re going to be changing that Tiger Tracker avatar Sunday night.
• Now onto Tiger. After all, he did hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 28 putts. It wasn’t looking good early when he had nine putts through four holes and was 1 over par. But he birdied Nos. 5 and 6, turned in 1 under, and really turned it on down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle over his final seven holes. And if you take a good look at the scorecard below you’ll notice he didn’t make a bogey after the first hole.
• How good is a 65 at East Lake? Better than his opening 62 at Aronimink, according to Woods: “This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is – it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”
Woods added that you had to play “conservatively” and be patient – take what the course allowed. Tiger missed five putts – four of them for birdie – inside 15 feet. But in the 93-degree heat, he kept his composure and made putts of 26 and 28 feet for birdie, and 28 feet for eagle.
• This week feels different. It feels like Tiger is really ready to win again. He seems very serious, very focused. He talked about “getting the W” on Wednesday and said on Thursday, “[T]he objective is to always win.”
After shooting 65, Woods signed a few autographs and eventually made his way to the putting green. If he gets those 15-footer to fall, we’re going to be two wins away from tying Sammy.
• So, what about that eagle on 18, you ask? Tiger said he “hammered” a driver – which was listed at 320 yards – and then hit a 5-wood from 256 yards to 28 feet. As for the putt: “It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.”
Right into the cup. Right into the lead. Our man is making history this week.
Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake
Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.
Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.
Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.
Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.
Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.
Woods finished his round with a vintage eagle on the par-5 18th hole, finding the green with a 5-wood from 256 yards out and then sinking the 28-foot putt.
Co-leader. pic.twitter.com/MMUZ8zptQ9— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 20, 2018
The eagle at the last gave Woods a share of the early first-round lead with Rickie Fowler at 5-under 65.
Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship
Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.
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