Nicklaus Says Woods Turnaround is Near

By Randall MellMarch 3, 2011, 3:23 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – So Bobby Jones is giving advice to a young Jack Nicklaus . . .

They’re huddled together in an Augusta National cabin, back when Nicklaus was 19. The greatest player who ever lived is sharing his wisdom with the young man who will succeed him. They’re talking about the golf swing, about slumps, about fixing flaws.

The image this conjures makes you straighten your back and creep to the edge of your seat in the interview room at the Honda Classic.

It’s a couple hours before his pro-am tee time, but Nicklaus has transported himself back to his terrific moment with Jones. His eyes are far away, seeing Jones in that cabin, hearing Jones tell him about his “seven lean years” from ages 14 to 21. Jones is telling Nicklaus that part of his problem was that he was relying way too much on his instructor, Stewart Maiden. He is telling Nicklaus that in his struggles he kept running back to Maiden for help.

“Until he taught me not to run back to him, when I learned that, then I became a great golfer,” Jones told Nicklaus.

Nicklaus had the same swing coach (Jack Grout) his entire life, but he believes today’s players rely too heavily on their coaches when their games go awry.

“A lot of times, guys run back to their swing coach too much,” Nicklaus said. 

Listening to Nicklaus Wednesday, you wonder what he would tell Tiger Woods today if they were to huddle in some cabin at Augusta National. Because, according to Nicklaus, he’s hardly talked to Woods in the last year. They had a brief conversation at the Memorial almost 10 months ago, another conversation at last year’s Masters, but that’s it.

If Nicklaus, 71, were to huddle with Woods, you wonder if he’d channel Bobby Jones for him. We’ve heard Nicklaus do that before.

“He plays a game with which I’m not familiar,” Jones said after Nicklaus won his second Masters in 1965 by a whopping nine shots.

Three decades later, Nicklaus would use those same words to describe Woods’ game.

Nicklaus still believes in Woods’ game.

“I’m surprised he hasn’t bounced back by now,” Nicklaus said. “I think he’s got a great work ethic, or, at least he did. I assume he still does. I haven’t seen him practice for a long time, but he’s got such a great work ethic. He’s so determined in what he wants to do. I’m very surprised he hasn’t popped back.

“I still think he’ll break my record.”

Woods, 35, has won 14 professional major championships, four short of Nicklaus’ record.

Nicklaus won his 13th and 14th majors when he was 35.

Like Woods, Nicklaus said he changed his swing more than once in his career.

“I made changes constantly in my swing,” Nicklaus said. “If you don’t make changes, you don’t improve, I don’t care who you are, because your body continually changes. My body at 46 was certainly different than it was at 25 and 35, as Tiger’s body is a lot different than it was at 25.”

And like Woods, Nicklaus went through a major slump.

“Jack Grout, who worked with me from 1950 through 1989, until he passed away, never set one foot on a practice tee [during a tournament], ever,” Nicklaus said. “He came to a lot of tournaments. You never saw him on the practice tee. He taught me to be able to make my own changes, make my own adjustments . . . so I could understand how to play the game. That was the important thing, that I knew how to play the game.

“Grout tried to teach that to me from the inception. He was familiar with what Jones had done.”

Nicklaus, it should be pointed out, wasn’t speaking directly about Woods’ swing changes, but generally about swing changes.

Speaking directly about Woods, Nicklaus believes a stabilizing atmosphere in the wake of Woods’ divorce should help him. He seemed pleased to hear that Elin Woods, who divorced Woods in the wake of his sex scandal, is seeking a home near Woods’ new Jupiter Island home in South Florida so their children will be near their father.

“I know he’s spending time with his kids,” Nicklaus said. “He got maybe off track, but I think he’s really a principled kid. Did he have some waywardness? Yes. But are we all perfect? No.”

Nicklaus said he found new motivation playing for his children in his 30s. Still dominant late into his 30s, Nicklaus endured the worst slump of his career at 39. His confidence bottomed out in 1979, his first winless season as a pro.

“No question about that,” said Nicklaus, who plummeted to 71st on the PGA Tour money list that year. “You had to really fall down pretty bad to get that far down [the money list] in those days.”

After amassing 65 PGA Tour victories in 17 seasons as a pro, Woods lost his swing. He said his swing became too vertical. He lost power, started hitting weak pop-up shots. He was unable to hit penetrating shots into wind, and his short game, never a strength, was awful.

So Nicklaus decided at the end of ‘79 to put his clubs away for almost four months before rebuilding his swing from scratch. He huddled with Grout at the start of the ’80 season.

“I said, `OK, let’s start over,’” Nicklaus said. “We started with grip, stance, posture, everything. But the biggest thing we started out with was to shallow my arc.”

Nicklaus says he’s waiting for Woods to have that special moment that brings him back, the way Nicklaus snapped out of his slump in the summer of ‘80. Nicklaus came out of his funk at a major when he won the U.S. Open at Baltusrol. He had won the U.S. Open there in ’67, breaking Ben Hogan’s 72-hole scoring record.

“I wasn’t very happy going to the U.S. Open,” Nicklaus said. “But you just keep working at it, and you keep doing things, and all of a sudden, something kicks in. I think that’s what will happen with Tiger.”

Nicklaus believes his short-game work with Phil Rodgers helped him snap out of his slump. He also thinks something about Baltusrol, where he had success before, also helped revived him.

“I shot 63 in the first round and missed a little putt for 62 on the last hole,” Nicklaus said. “All of a sudden, I said, `Hey, maybe this is my time to start doing it the right way again.’ All of a sudden your mind turns around.”

Nicklaus went on to set the U.S. Open scoring record yet again and win the PGA Championship at Oak Hill later that summer. He believes something similar will spark a turnaround in Woods.


Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''