A Noble Pursuit

By Randall MellJune 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
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What separated Jack Nicklaus wasnt just how good he was in victory. Its how gracious he was in defeat.
 
What, after all, is more impressive? That the Golden Bear won 18 professional major championships? Or that he finished second in 19 of them?
 
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus is still king of the majors until somebody dethrones him. (Getty Images)
Nicklaus, 69, may be faced with one more runner-up finish late in life, maybe the toughest of his remarkable career.
 
Tiger Woods is determined to take one of sports most treasured records away from Nicklaus. Woods, 33, needs five more major championship triumphs to surpass Nicklaus. If Woods does so, hell take more than the record for most major titles. Hell take away Nicklaus distinction as the best player who ever lived. Some folks already believe Woods is the best ever, but with 19 majors, it becomes official.
 
Its difficult to imagine this wouldnt injure Nicklaus in some way. Hes human, after all, and there has to be such joy in towering singularly over a lifes work like that. All of this helps make moments like Wednesdays Memorial Skins Games so compelling.
 
When Woods and Nicklaus are together, you expect the electricity to create sparks. Nicklaus is the only real rival to Woods on the planet, and now Nicklaus knows what all those players today feel like when Woods name hits a leaderboard. More often than not, theres a certain helplessness.
 
At the conclusion to Wednesdays skins game, Woods showed his flair for the dramatic for Nicklaus to inspect close up. Woods rolled in a 12-foot putt at the final hole to extend the skins game to a playoff and then holed his shot from 60 feet in the chip-off to win with Nicklaus on deck. The Golden Bear made a terrific run at holing his, too.
 
The day was mostly about fun and charity, but you sensed the pride these two showed performing for each other.
 
Its certainly no lock Woods will surpass Nicklaus, but the closer Woods gets, the more closely it draws these two together.
 
In the end, Woods determination to be the greatest player ever will remind us that Nicklaus greatness reaches beyond his skill. Well be reminded of the dignity Nicklaus displayed in all those second-place finishes. Well remember his great concession to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup.
 
Woods and Nicklaus will draw out the best in each other even with Nicklaus relegated to spectator. Woods run at Nicklaus also thrusts the spotlight on what makes golf different.
 
In the wake of LeBron James unsportsmanlike exit after the NBAs Eastern Conference finals, golf gives us the ancient Olympic model of what competition was intended to be. Thats not to say golfs perfect. Its not. Golf isnt immune to the human hearts corrupt side, but the games honorable traditions make it a beacon in todays evolving sports landscape.
 
Michael Josephson, the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, will tell you sportsmanship is civilitys first cousin.
 
The word competition comes from a Latin root, competere, which means to strive together, says Josephson. Thats the old version, the historic Olympic version, where you literally respect and honor your opponent, because youre both giving your best to truly test your athletic ability to see whos fastest or more skilled. Theres a nobility about competition.
 
Golf gives us something different than the awkwardness of Barry Bonds pursuit of Hank Aarons record.
 
It gives us Woods noble pursuit of Nicklaus.
 
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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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.

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    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.

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

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    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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    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.

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

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    “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.

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