Arnie and Jack at It Again

By Mercer BaggsDecember 3, 2006, 5:00 pm
Arnold Palmer remembers it being 1958. Jack Nicklaus cant really recall if it was 58 or maybe two years prior.
What they agree on is that it occurred at an exhibition event in Ohio. That was where a pair of legends in the making competed against one another for the first time.
I remember that I was impressed by his golf, Palmer said this past week of seeing Nicklaus for the first time. I thought that the right elbow might give him some trouble, though.
Jack and Jackie Nicklaus
Jack and Jackie Nicklaus celebrate a birdie by the old man.
Of course, Jack managed to forge a decent enough career in spite of his flying right elbow.
Fifty years, maybe 48, later, the two are still going at one another ' on and off the course.
Neither man plays much anymore, certainly not in professional competition. They now spend more time battling each other in the business world of golf design.
Nicklaus decided that he had enough after the 2005 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Palmer came to the same conclusion this year at Augusta ' Augusta Pines Golf Club in Spring, Texas, site of the Champions Tours Administaff Small Business Classic.
Ive always said that at some point you need to turn in your guns and holster. Even old cowboys did that. They either got shot or they turned them in, Palmer analogized a few days before the start of the Del Webb Father/Son Challenge.
Palmer, 77, and Nicklaus, 66, havent given up the game. We just dont get to watch them play nearly as much, which is the way they prefer it.
In gunslinger terms: they arent as quick on the draw as they used to be. Golfs not a matter of being quick or dead, but there is a matter of pride. And repeated poor play ' especially when you were among the all-time greats ' can kill one's desire.
Oh, I shoot my 72-to-76 or 77, and thats about what I shoot ' and its from the member's tees, Nicklaus said. I went to Augusta (National) a couple of weeks ago and took six fellas and I think I shot 72, 73 the two days, and I looked back 80 yards behind me at the member's tees to where I used to play from. I said, I used to play back there.
Palmer still plays with his buddies, too. And he enjoys it. Its nice to play a round at your own pace, on your own time ' and not have to sign the scorecard afterwards.
But dont go thinking weve seen the last of him playing in public.
I dont think Ill say that Im through, clarified Palmer. If I play at all, this will be the kind of thing that Ill play in.
The Father/Son is the one event above all others during the silly season that players would willingly pay an entry fee to grab a spot in the field.
Its open to past major champions and their offspring. It doesnt necessarily have to be a father-son combination. Palmer, for instance, is competed with his grandson, Sam Saunders. Nicklaus did so with his oldest son, Jackie.
The two played alongside one another on Day 1 of the two-day competition. Jack and Jack II shot 10-under 62, while Arnold and Sam had a 64.
Team Nicklaus made eight birdies to close out their round, thanks in large part to Dads putting.
Nicklaus is putting better than he , Palmer started to say, before amending with, well, no; hes putted that way all his life.
I told him, If we can get Jackie to drive it for you, you can go back and play the majors.
Said Jackie, who was on his fathers bag for his famed 86 Masters triumph: Hes still a competitor when he wants to be.
When the final bell rang Sunday afternoon at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Fla., and the final shot had been struck, Team Nicklaus tied for sixth, the Palmer-Saunders combo finished 15th.
Winning and losing, however, are secondary at the Father/Son; its about playing golf with family and old friends, and having a good time.
Palmer and Nicklaus relish this opportunity. They both had strong relationships with their fathers and thoroughly enjoy being the patriarchs of their own families.
Arnold Palmer and Sam Saunders
Arnold Palmer poses with his grandson, Sam Saunders.
Palmer found out Friday that he is a going to be a great-grandfather for the first time, as his granddaughter Katie is expecting a child next year.
Theres nothing Id love better than to hang around and play with that great-grandchild, girl or boy, said the proud Palmer.
Arnold would love to pass on the lessons his father taught him, like the one about controlling your temper: One of the rules in Deacon Palmers house when I left there, and that was you can get angry if you want to, but dont show how stupid you are. If you hit a club on the ground once in a while or if you talk to yourself a little bit, thats one thing. But making an ass of yourself is not something he permitted,' he said.
Palmer is trying to pass along little pearls like this to Sam, even if he couldn't convince him to go to his alma mater of Wake Forest. He said his grandson has a tendency to get a overly upset with himself after a poor shot, and then he starts ' like many of todays youth ' worrying about his technique.
It isnt going to make a damn bit of difference on the next shot where his hips are or his shoulders are or anything, Palmer said in his old-school manner. What he just has to do is just continue to play his game.
Jacks doing the same thing. Hes doing with his kids and grandkids what his father did with him.
My dad introduced me to everything, and he did it with me, Nicklaus said of his father, Charlie.
Fundamentally, he taught me everything in every sport the way he did it. And thats what I try to do with my kids ' teach them the fundamentals, then get away from them, let them do their own thing.
Worked pretty well for Nicklaus ' imagine if someone had told him: Tuck in that right elbow on your backswing.
Or imagine if someone got a hold of Palmer at a young age and said: Hey, kid, why dont you try to hit it like Hogan? Or: How about you learn to hit the ball a little higher?
They wouldnt have been who they were; they wouldnt be who they are.
These two are legends, even if their holsters have been hung up and their guns have no more bullets. They are fathers and grandfathers, and one will soon be a great-granddad.
And, yes, they are still rivals.
Nicklaus, with a little help, got the better of his old foe, who had a little bit of help of his own, this time around.
But, these days its not all about who beats whom. Its not about who wins the fight. Its about who gets in the most verbal jabs.
Jack and Arnold needled each other throughout their 18 holes together Saturday. They had the kind of fun that you just cant imagine any of todays rivals having in the future.
Jacks hitting it very well for a man his age, Palmer said afterwards with big smile.
Nicklaus countered with the fact that he just hopes to one day reach Palmers age.
Who would have ever imagined this kind of relationship 50 years ago? Or, maybe it was 48.
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Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Del Webb Father/Son Challenge
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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

    Getty Images

    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

    Getty Images

    After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

    With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

    While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

    Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

    Zach Johnson: 13/2

    Rory McIlroy: 7/1

    Jordan Spieth: 8/1

    Rickie Fowler: 9/1

    Kevin Kisner: 12/1

    Xander Schauffele: 16/1

    Tony Finau: 16/1

    Matt Kuchar: 18/1

    Pat Perez: 25/1

    Brooks Koepka: 25/1

    Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

    Alex Noren: 50/1

    Tiger Woods: 50/1

    Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

    Danny Willett: 60/1

    Francesco Molinari: 60/1