Notes Nicklaus Touched by Players Gift

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- One tradition at the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup is for the players to give their captain a gift before the matches begin. U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus received a gift that brought him to tears.
The players, with help from the PGA Tour and Nicklaus' family, commissioned a large oil painting of Jake Nicklaus, his 17-month-old grandson, who drowned in a hot tub on March 1.
Phil Mickelson presented the portrait to Nicklaus with a heartfelt speech.
Nicklaus put the portrait in the team room, in a corner to the right of the main door. He wants to find a permanent home for it, possibly in the Nicklaus Children's Hospital near his home in south Florida.
Jake was the son of Steve and Krista Nicklaus, the Golden Bear's second-oldest son. They were on their way to the Presidents Cup on Saturday - which would have been Jake's second birthday.
Mickelson declined to talk about the present, but he did speak in general terms over his excitement of spending a week with Nicklaus as captain.
``Having the greatest player in the game, just being around him and his wife Barbara, who exudes class, has been a lot of fun,'' Mickelson said. ``But having him be our captain and developing an intimate relationship with them - you talk about family and friends - for me, who grew up idolizing him, who grew up watching him win major championships, to have a friendship with him is very special.''
Phil Mickelson's wife felt a wild shift of emotions on the par-3 seventh hole Saturday morning.
Standing to the right of the green, Amy Mickelson watched Chris DiMarco make only the second ace in Presidents Cup history, giving DiMarco and Mickelson the early lead in an alternate-shot match.
Moments later, she discovered that a sapphire had come loose from her ring and fallen into thick rough.
After the American team walked by toward the eighth tee, she started searching in the tall grass and soon was joined by a half-dozen marshals, and even a few fans pressed near the ropes. Right when she was about to give up, a marshal found the sapphire.
Mrs. Mickelson hugged him twice, asked for a business card and was all smiles again.
``This really was a lucky hole,'' she said.
By the way, DiMarco used a 7-iron to ace the 187-yard hole, which hugs the shoreline of Lake Manassas.
``You could see it in the air, like, 'OK, this is going to be good.' And you saw it bounce and you saw it roll,'' DiMarco said.
It was the fifth hole-in-one on the PGA Tour in DiMarco's career. The only previous ace in the Presidents Cup was made by International player David Frost on the same course in 1994.
A misunderstanding led Davis Love III to think Mike Weir had conceded an 18-inch putt at the 17th hole during the morning foursomes.
So, when Love picked up the ball - which had been hit Stewart Cink on a nice approach shot - Weir asked him what he was doing. As Love stood with his arms outstretched, the gallery began to boo.
``I think they thought I was trying to win the hole that way,'' Weir said. ``That wasn't the case at all.''
Weir wanted to see the coin mark on the green, a psychological reminder that the match was over if Weir had missed his 8-foot attempt.
``It was my fault,'' Love said. ``I heard him say 'good.' And he said 'Good shot, Stewie.'''
Unsure what to do, both captains arrived on the green, along with retired USGA rules chief Tom Meeks. Weir's partner, Trevor Immelman, argued that picking up the ball without it being conceded is loss of the hole, but all Weir wanted was for Love to replace the ball.
Meeks said replacing the ball was within the rules because Love had misunderstood Weir's words. Weir made his putt, picked up Love's coin and they headed to the 18th, where the Americans finished the 1-up victory.
Vijay Singh had a very long day Saturday at the Presidents Cup.
He and Stuart Appleby faced Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in both the morning foursomes and the afternoon fourball, and Woods and Furyk took their own sweet time conferring with each other when lining up to putt.
``Just too slow,'' Singh said. ``It took us 5 1/2 hours to play. ... Around the greens it just took forever to play. Toward the end, it took its toll. I had a partner that wasn't very fast, either. ... I have a pace and I play to my pace. I don't know what the officials are doing. We had 20, 25 minutes behind time, they are just not stepping up and saying, 'Hey, you are slow. Hurry up.'''
To help avoid a repeat of the tie finish in the 2003 Presidents Cup, the rules will be different for Sunday's singles.
Any match that is even after 18 holes will go to a sudden-death playoff - until one team or the other has reached the required 17 1/2 points to win the Cup. Once the Cup is secured, all matches that are tied through 18 will be called a halve.
Of course, that mean there can't be a tie for the Cup. If each team wins six matches Sunday, there will be a 17-17 draw - and the Cup will be shared for yet another two years. There will be no extra one-on-one playoff, as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els had two years ago in South Africa before darkness halted play.
Left unanswered is what happens if darkness stops play this time with the competition undecided.
``Darkness?'' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said with a sigh. ``You're going to have to ask a higher power. I don't have the answer to that question.''
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk went 1-0-1 in their two matches Saturday, but they also provided some comic relief at the short par-4 eighth.
Woods' tee shot went awry and landed at the No. 9 tee. Furyk's attempt to get the ball back to the correct hole failed - his shot hit a tree branch, dropping the ball right back on the tee box. Woods got the ball to the steep rough by the eighth green, Furyk got the ball to the fringe, and Woods made one putt before the hole was mercifully conceded to Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby.
After three days, Americans David Toms and Kenny Perry are the only two players in the competition yet to score a point.
Related Links:
  • Scoring - Presidents Cup
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
  • Getty Images

    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

    Getty Images

    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

    Getty Images

    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

    Getty Images

    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”