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Know Jack: The teacher, Jack Grout

By Mercer BaggsApril 10, 2017, 11:00 am

They describe him in simple terms, which is appropriate, because his methods were just that.

“A wonderful, quiet man,” says Jack Saeger, a long-time Jack Nicklaus friend.

“A wonderful gentleman,” says Robin Obetz, also a friend of Jack’s for over five decades.

They aren’t describing Nicklaus, but rather his teacher, Jack Grout.

John Frederick “Jack” Grout was born in 1910, in Oklahoma City. He moved to Ft. Worth, Texas in 1930 to assist his older brother, who was the head pro at Glen Garden Country Club. There, the younger Grout befriended a pair of local juniors: Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

Jack Grout played professionally for several years and had moderate success, never winning what would count as a Tour event. In ’37, he moved to Hershey, Pa., to work as an assistant to Henry Picard at Hershey Country Club. He furthered his knowledge of the swing, learning from Picard, who had learned from Alex Morrison.

In 1950, he took the head pro job at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. It was there, while recruiting kids for a junior clinic, he told Charlie Nicklaus to bring his boy.

Jack N. met Jack G. when he was 10 years old. He had just started the game after his father gained membership at Scioto and moved the family within walking distance of the course.

Kaye Kessler was a sports writer for the Columbus Citizen, at the time. He took a photograph of that group of kids and was later contacted by Grout.

Jack: A collection of Nicklaus stories

“You remember the group we had together when you first came out? Well, we have a boy in this class shoot 51 on our first nine hole,” Grout told Kessler.

“Who?” responded Kessler.

“A boy named Jack Nicklaus.”

Kessler put a blub in the paper about him, the first time Jackie Boy, as Grout called him, made the press.

Grout became Nicklaus’ first and only teacher. Even when Nicklaus attended Ohio State University, head coach Bob Keppler had no intention of instructing him.

“He says, ‘I’m not Jack’s coach. Jack Grout is Jack’s coach,’” Kessler says Keppler told him.

Grout had a simple philosophy, based on six fundamentals: Good grip, set up correctly, steady head, proper footwork, full extension and quiet hands.

“The members used to say, ‘Mr. Grout, you’re just gonna ruin that boy the way you’re letting him swing,'" Kessler says. "And Grout just said, ‘Don’t worry about that. We gotta let Jackie Boy stretch those muscles while he’s young. When he gets them stretched where he oughta be, we’ll reign him in.”

“He wouldn’t let me take my heels off the ground for the first year I played golf,” says Nicklaus. “You learn how to roll your ankles, learn how to shift your weight, learn how to release the club. Teachings of Alex Morrison.”

Grout stayed at Scioto until 1961, when he moved to Miami, Fla., to take the head pro job at La Gorce Country Club. But he always remained by Nicklaus’ side, if not literally.

“I probably would never have seen him more than two times a year, maybe three dead max,” Nicklaus said. “Jack taught me to be responsible for my own swing.”

It’s a far cry from what you see in modern times.

“Not once did he ever step on the practice tee at a golf tournament,” Nicklaus says. “I think what happens today on tour is ridiculous.

“The coach is not out there on the golf course with you when you’re in the middle of a competition on the 13th hole and you’re having a problem and you gotta figure out how to finish that golf tournament. You gotta be able to do that yourself.”

Nicklaus would begin each season with a short session with Grout. They’d go over the fundamentals, make sure Nicklaus was comfortable and on track. Then it was up to Jack, the student.

“Jack Grout would be more of Jack’s eyes. He could see, yes, this is where you need to be. No, this isn’t where you need to be. He always taught him how to fix his swing under pressure,” instructor Butch Harmon says. “He gave him a better understanding of when he hit a bad shot or why he hit it, and what he had to do to correct it.”

And, from the time Jack was boy, Grout helped shaped Nicklaus’ swing, not alter it – flying right elbow and all.

“I think if he had changed Jack’s swing, the flying right elbow that we know, we might never have heard of Jack Nicklaus,” instructor David Leadbetter says.

In 1974, Grout went back to Ohio to accept a pro emeritus position at Muirfield Golf Club, which would eventually host Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament. He’d travel back to Florida in the winter time and do some teaching there, as well.

Nicklaus wasn’t Grout’s only Hall of Fame pupil – Raymond Floyd, Ben Crenshaw, among other notables –  just the one for which he will always be associated.

Grout died in 1989 at age 79.

“I came along at the right time for him and he came along at the right time for me,” Nicklaus says.

“He loved me and I loved him.”

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.