Notes Jack Back in 2005

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
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.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 133rd Open Championship
  • TV Airtimes

  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

    Getty Images

    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

    Getty Images

    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

    Getty Images

    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.