Nicklaus skips St Andrews to preserve memory

By Doug FergusonJune 3, 2010, 2:55 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – The British Open this year will feature a four-hole exhibition with all its past champions, from Seve Ballesteros to Tiger Woods to Nick Faldo.

Among the few missing will be Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus was criticized in the British press for saying he would only go to St. Andrews this year if his sponsor, Royal Bank of Scotland, wanted him there for a corporate function.

RBS doesn’t have any plans for Nicklaus, and Nicklaus doesn’t have any plans to play.

But it’s not the money or the hassle. Nicklaus said he simply doesn’t want to tarnish the warm feelings he had from 2005, when he chose St. Andrews as the final major he played.

“It was my last time being involved in a major. It was perfect,” Nicklaus said.

He said he has a contract with RBS to entertain clients at various tournaments, and he told them he really didn’t want to return to St. Andrews for the British Open this year. RBC honored his request.

“I go to the Masters, but the Masters is different,” Nicklaus said, alluding to the annual tradition of the Champions Dinner, the proximity to his home in south Florida and playing the Par 3 Tournament. “St. Andrews is where I finished by my career. That’s got a special feeling and I want to keep that feeling.”

Nicklaus said he called Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson a few weeks ago to let him know he wasn’t coming, and why.

“He said, ‘I suspect that’s the reason. I honor that, respect that and I’ll support that,”’ Nicklaus said.

TIGER’S INJURY: Tiger Woods wonders if his neck injury was a case of doing too much too soon.

He said there wasn’t a single moment where it began to hurt, rather an accumulation of hitting so many balls after being away from the game for the better part of four months.

“Because I’d taken so much time off and way away from the game and didn’t do anything that physically resembled the game of golf, then come back and try and hit the same amount of golf balls that I was hitting right before the Aussie Masters, I wasn’t physically ready for it,” he said. “And the body started breaking down, and I just started playing through it.”

Woods said he assumed the pain would go away.

“Just never got better,” he said.

Woods said he puts ice on his neck and does strengthening exercises to get the right muscles working.

One reporter asked Woods why he wasn’t more forthcoming with his neck injury before he had to pull out of The Players Championship.

“You don’t need to know,” he said.

MUIRFIELD CHANGES: Jack Nicklaus is always tinkering with his beloved Muirfield Village, trying to get it just right, and the next change could be one of the biggest. After the Memorial, he’s going to build a different 16th hole.

Nicklaus said there’s nothing wrong with the par 3 except that it didn’t add to the drama of the closing holes. In his typical harsh assessment, he said of the 16th hole, “It’s a nice way to get to the 17th tee.”

Bringing the Presidents Cup to his course made the decision easy.

“When they play the Presidents Cup, most of your matches are going to end around the 15th, 16th hole. So the bulk of your gallery is going to be out there,” Nicklaus said. “We need to expand our gallery situation in that area.”

To do that, he plans to extend a small lake all the way down the left side of the hole. With so much water, he thought the hole should play a little shorter, and that the green should be moved more to the right.

“It will create a much bigger amphitheater and create more space for people,” he said. “So it will be a win-win for the thing. Yes, we’re going to spend some money in there, but I think no longer will it be a way to get from 15 green to 17 tee. It will be a really good golf hole, and the gallery situation will be unbelievable.”

It wasn’t just the Presidents Cup that led to this change. Nicklaus said a new 16th has been in the works, but he thought it would send the wrong message if people were hurting because of the economy and Muirfield Village was building a new hole.

“I didn’t think that the economy was right to be spending money on the golf course out here for a golf tournament, and I think that the economy is recovering,” he said. “I think we’re moving more in the right direction. And I wanted to get it done while I was still around.”

SCOTT’S YEAR: Adam Scott might have hit his low point at Muirfield Village a year ago. He opened with a 77, then followed that with an 81 to miss the cut by nine shots.

Even more irritating was missing the cut by far less.

“I felt like I lost so much confidence by missing the cut by one each week, rather than just making it,” he said. “You miss the cut by one, you may as well miss by 10. You’re not playing. I was so close all the time, but I lost a lot of confidence from that.”

One shot changed everything.

Scott was at the Singapore Open, struggling to make the cut. He thought he needed to finish with a par to make the cut on the number, and he hit 7-iron to a foot. Turns out that birdie allowed him to make the cut. He had a great weekend and finished third.

Some six weeks later, he won the Australian Open, his first professional victory in his home country. Then came another victory three weeks ago at the Texas Open, and Scott says he is headed in the right direction.

“All the things that I’ve dealt with and learned and put behind me and moved through is going to show up in my game over the next six months or a year or five years,” Scott said. “I think I can be a much, much better player than I was before, even when I was playing my best golf.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."