Barbara Nicklaus gets Bob Jones Award four years after secretly missing out

By Jason SobelJanuary 14, 2015, 7:48 pm

Jack Nicklaus doesn’t make a habit of keeping secrets from his wife. He and Barbara will be married 55 years this July. They have five children and 22 grandchildren. They’ve walked hand in hand through a lifetime in golf. She served as his driving force, shepherding him to so much career success. Their achievements together are only superseded by the memories.

So, no. He doesn’t keep secrets. Except this one, from four years ago.

Jack knew at the time that Barbara was on the ballot for the USGA’s prestigious Bob Jones Award. The organization’s highest honor, the award is annually presented to an individual “who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game” exhibited by the famed Jones. He knew because he had a vote – and yes, like any doting husband, he voted for his wife.

Not that she knew any of this. While Jack’s awards are the stuff of legend – the 18 major championships; the World Golf Hall of Fame induction; the Congressional Gold Medal; heck, he’s even featured on currency in the U.K. – accolades for Barbara have always come in a more unofficial capacity. She had no reason to believe she’d been nominated for this award, no reason to think it could be her year.

And so she was neither disappointed nor surprised when she lost to Annika Sorenstam in a run-off vote. The truth is, she never knew. Her husband might have voted for her, but he kept it a secret.

Until now.

Jack can finally tell Barbara just how close she came to winning four years ago, because she’s been named as this year’s recipient of the award. No more secrets.

“She's been so great to so many people in the game of golf,” Jack said during a Wednesday teleconference. “She's contributed so much to what's gone on with the wives and Tour wives and the advice she's given to all the young girls coming out and the kids she's been involved with, the charities she's been involved with.”

The award comes exactly four decades after it was bestowed upon her husband – during the year of his 13th and 14th major titles – and Barbara will not only join an elite list of those who plied their craft inside the ropes, but one which also includes presidents and entertainers.

“Wow,” she was quoted as exclaiming to the USGA upon hearing the news. “What a truly humbling honor.”

Jack undoubtedly held no surprise at the reaction. As he said: “Barbara is one person that is never on her own mind. It's always somebody else and what can I do for them. That's the amazing part about her.”

For those out there – doesn’t there always have to be a few obtuse killjoys in the mix? – who insist that the woman often referred to as “The First Lady of Golf” has no business being mentioned with the game’s greats, allow her husband to serve as the first line of defense against that debate.

For him, she owned multiple roles besides being his wife.

Like sports psychologist …

“She was the person that I bounced everything off of. My father passed away at a relatively early age. I used to bounce a lot of things off of my dad and get his advice, and when my dad passed, Barbara became sort of my confidant. … I didn't always take her advice, as she will say, but I certainly listened to her, because she's a devil of a lot smarter than I am.”

… and swing guru …

“I walked off the practice tee one day, and she said, ‘Well, I see you fixed your crooked backswing.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘I don't know, but it looks different, and now it looks normal.’ I figured out what she was talking about, even though she didn't really know anything about the game of golf at that point in time.”

Jack’s stories about Barbara can stretch back more than a half-century or just mere hours.

On Wednesday, he related a story from the night before. He’d been watching his alma mater Ohio State play basketball on television and asked her to join him. She did – but for only a few minutes before she needed to craft a few handwritten notes.

“That's just constantly what she does,” he said. “She's always trying to do something for somebody else.”

This time around, it will be Barbara in the spotlight, not beaming in the background as she so often has over the years. She won’t be doing something for somebody else. She will be on the receiving end of the USGA’s most prestigious honor.

Four years ago, her husband kept this possibility a secret. That secret is out. Now it will be Jack silently beaming in the background while The First Lady of Golf finally earns some official recognition.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

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Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”