You Say Hello I Say Goodbye

By Mercer BaggsJuly 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
When Tiger Woods finally gets bored of golf and decides to become a professional fly-fisherman or a Senator or just wants to see how much of the world he can purchase, he will be linked historically to one other player.
 
Oddly enough that one player will be a man whom Woods has thus far competed against only 29 times as a professional. And one against whom he holds a 26-2-1 record in head-to-head performance.
 
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus pauses on the Swilcan Bridge during a practice round with old rival and friend Tom Watson.
This weeks Open Championship at St. Andrews will mark Jack Nicklaus final appearance in golfs oldest tournament. And, it may well mark his final competitive event.
 
Perhaps. Maybe.
 
This may or may not be Jacks last stand on the whole. But it is most certainly his final performance on golfs most worldly stage. At age 65, this is his last year of eligibility to compete in the championship.
 
The Golden Bears goodbye could mean another coronation for Woods.
 
Ive been pretty good on Jacks farewells, Woods joked to the media while in Ireland for last weeks J. P. McManus Pro-Am.
 
Pretty good is an understatement. When Nicklaus walks away from a major, Tiger wins said major. There have been no exceptions.
 
Nicklaus last U.S. Open was in 2000 at Pebble Beach. He missed the cut; Tiger won. His last PGA Championship was also in 2000 at Valhalla. He missed the cut; Tiger won.
 
After missing the cut at this years Masters Tournament, Nicklaus declared himself finished at Augusta. Tiger then went on to win.
 
'And I won at St. Andrews (in 2000) last time, which was supposed to be his farewell,' Wood added.
 
Nicklaus decided to play the Open Championship for a 38th time because the tournaments governing body, the Royal & Ancient, moved this years site to St. Andrews.
 
Nicklaus has always had a fondness for the Old Course, as two of his three Open victories (1970, 78) came at the home of golf.
 
Augusta and St. Andrews are my two favorite places in the game of golf, and I thought it was appropriate to end it at one of those two, Nicklaus said earlier this year. And, being what the R & A did in changing their date ' frankly, they weren't going there until 2006, and they just announced it a year earlier, which I thought was a pretty nice compliment. I thought that would be a pretty good place to stop.
 
Woods also has quite an affinity for the historic links layout.
 
Its one of the greatest venues youll ever play because its so dependent on the weather, he said at the Cialis Western Open two weeks ago. The golf course is not that hard when the wind doesnt blow, as we saw the last time at the British Open. We all took it deep.
 
We is more like me. Woods set a major championship record by finishing the 2000 Open at 19-under-par 269. He won by eight strokes over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els.
 
That victory completed the career Grand Slam for Woods. He has since won another PGA Championship (2000), another U.S. Open (2002), and three more Masters Tournaments (2001, 02, 05).
 
But not yet another Open Championship.
 
Should he repeat his performance from five years ago, he will join ' who else? ' Nicklaus as the only two men to win every major championship at least twice.
 
Woods will return to St. Andrews with a swing that is dissimilar to the one that was so effective in his 2000 demolition. After suffering through a 10 major winless stretch, that new motion finally paid major dividends at this years Masters, which he won in a playoff over Chris DiMarco.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods looked relaxed during his Tuesday practice round at St. Andrews.
That triumph evoked thoughts of a possible seasonal Slam for Woods. But that dream died prematurely when he finished runner-up to Michael Campbell in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
 
I dont want to be like I was in 2000; thats why I made the swing changes ' I wanted to be better, he said. I was satisfied when I won the first major this year, but I felt I should have won the other. At the U.S. Open I finished second-to-last on the putting stats, so that tells you how well I hit the ball. My confidence is building at the right time.
 
Woods was quite confident five years ago. And his ball-striking was as good then, if not better than it is now.
 
He didnt find a single one of the Old Courses 112 bunkers on the last occasion it hosted the Open. That may be a more difficult feat to accomplish this time around.
 
While Woods has a new swing of attack, the Old Course has a new line of defense.
 
The layout now measures 7,279 yards, compared to 7,115 in 2000. Five new, longer tees have been added, which should bring some of those penal pot bunkers back into play. That includes the infamous Hell bunker at the par-5 14th, which was upped from 581 to 618 yards.
 
Woods isnt a big fan of the changes.
 
I dont understand why they would do it, he said. They are so dependant on the weather. If the wind blows and you get bad weather, the guys are going to shoot high scores.
 
Woods, of course, has the good reason to like the old Old Course. So does Nicklaus.
 
Its just another thing the two happen to have in common.
 
One is of mixed heritage, was groomed for this game, has a chiseled physique, and is the sports current Superman. The other is a white Midwesterner, whose father hoped he would one day play football, who was referred to as Fat Jack, who once was kryptonite to the sports then Superman.
 
Theyre separated by 36 years and nine professional major championships. And yet they have so very much in common.
 
A perfect script would have one raising his hands over his head, bidding adieu Sunday afternoon, while the other raises his hands above his head in triumph later that evening.
 
But life is not a script that we can always write to our liking. And, for that matter, not everyone would like to see this script conclude in such a manner.
 
Then again, there may still be one more chapter left to write ' St. Andrews may not be the end. Nicklaus denouement may yet come at Augusta. And that would be just fine with Woods.
 
He just needs to keep retiring, Woods said with a big smile.
 
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    Levy wins Trophee Hassan for fifth European Tour title

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 6:32 pm

    RABAT, Morocco - Alexander Levy finished with a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco by a shot from overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.

    One off the lead overnight, Levy made two of his four birdies in his first five holes to hit the front and stayed ahead for the rest of the final day at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

    It was the 27-year-old Frenchman's fifth European Tour victory and he will take winning form to Beijing next week when he defends his China Open title.

    Levy ended 8-under 280 overall, one ahead of Spain's Quiros, who closed with a second straight 72.


    Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


    With his chasers pushing hard, Levy kept his cool after dropping a shot on No. 16. He birdied the short, par-3 No. 17 and made par at the last.

    Quiros birdied his last two holes to make sure of second place outright. He needed an eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff.

    A group of four players finished in a tie for third, including Italy's Andrea Pavan, who finished with a brilliant 6-under 66. Swedish pair Joakim Lagergren (70) and Alexander Bjork (70) and Finland's Mikko Ilonen (72) also shared third.

    Levy had three other top 10 finishes in his five previous events this season and moved up to ninth on the European Tour's Race to Dubai points list.

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    (Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

    LOS ANGELES - A player eager for her first win and a rookie top the leaderboard at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. Lurking two shots back is a Hall of Famer.

    Winless Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie rookie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday at Wilshire Country Club.

    Ko shot a 66 in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member after a successful run on the Korean LPGA circuit.

    ''I'm ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot,'' said Ko, who added an exclamation point to her golf bag for each of her wins on the KLPGA. ''I won 11 times, so if I win tomorrow, maybe I change to 12. I need more, I need every time motivation.''

    Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

    Usually when one of the Thai sisters is in the lead, the other will watch when her round is finished.

    ''If she's not too lazy, she is probably going to come out,'' Moriya said about Ariya.

    Playing in an all-Korean threesome, Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole. The group drew a large contingent of Korean fans.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    ''I kind of started off a little bad. I was able to come back strong, so I'm really happy with that,'' Park said. ''I left a few putts out there. The greens around this golf course are just really tough. You just don't know what's going to happen.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

    ''Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and like trying to come back,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I just try to play my game and be patient out there I think is the key.''

    Jutanugarn, the second-round leader, read the break perfectly on a long putt to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

    Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th from 180 yards. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled after three bogeys and a double bogey. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

    ''It was like one bounce and then it like trickled in,'' Inglis said.

    Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

    Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

    Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 under.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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    Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

    ''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

    Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

    ''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

    Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    ''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

    Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

    Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

    ''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

    Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

    ''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

    Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

    John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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    Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

    After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

    Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

    But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

    "I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

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    Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

    For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

    "I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

    "Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."