Shooting the Breeze with Jack

By Rich LernerDecember 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: Golf Channel reporter Rich Lerner spent some time recently with Jack Nicklaus at The Del Webb Father/Son Challenge at ChampionsGate, Fla. Here is part of their casual conversation.
RL: You were always known as an intimidating player. Who was the most intimidating opponent for you to handle?
JN: (Lee) Trevino was probably the most intimidating player for the simple reason that he talked all the time. You could never get away from him. As a result you were thinking about him and he wanted you to think about him. That was an intimidating factor to me.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus' final major was in the 2005 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
RL: How intimidating is Tiger (Woods)?
JN: Tiger doesnt even have to play well. He just has to show up and be near the lead. Everybody gets intimidated just by the name Tiger. I dont think anybody does it on purpose. I dont think anyone is trying to intentionally do something. I certainly never did. The only thing I did was try to play the best I could. If that was intimidating then its intimidating. I dont think Tiger tries to do anything. He just does it. Arnold (Palmer) was just loved by the people. Trevino? He just liked to talk. You have to remember that golf is really an individual game. You cant control anything but yourself so you have to go out and control your own emotions and control your own inner self and stay focused on what youre doing.
RL: This April will be the 10-year anniversary of Tigers 1997 Masters win. What do you remember about that?
JN: I remember he shot 40 for the first nine holes and I guess I was driving to the airport after the last round and heard that he was making birdie after birdie after birdie. And I said, 'Well, I guess my (tournament scoring) records gonna go,' and just went on to the airport.
RL: Where do you think hes headed?
JN: The way he plays and as good as he is and with his work ethic who knows what his limits are? I think his limits are only what he wants to make them. Hes a good kid. He handles himself well. Hes considerate of the other guys. He doesnt try to intimidate anybody. He just does it with his golf game, with his golf clubs. Thats where he does his talking. And I think thats the way it should be done. Hes as good as Ive ever seen.
RL: Ive always wondered about the pose you struck on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach at the 2000 U.S. Open when you sat on the fence.
JN: I said, 'Id like to have a picture of me on the 18th tee.' Seriously, thats exactly what I thought: Id like to have a picture of me on the 18th hole! I said, 'Somebody will get a good picture of this. That will be my last hole at the US Open.' And they did. And thats the picture everybody ran. But the funny part about it is I never planned anything in my life that way. But I did. I said, 'I think Ill walk over and sit down and theyll get a good picture of this and I think one leg should be up,' and I choreographed it perfectly and got a nice picture. I just wanted it for me. I didnt really want it for the world, but it was OK!
RL: What about your farewell at St. Andrews last year when you stopped to wave on the Swilcan Bridge?
JN: I was gonna do that. That was one I couldnt avoid, but that was also a great picture. There was a friend of mine who took this picture down to get it framed. Now, you want to talk about an experience to bring you back down to earth. He went back down and said Id like to get the picture back and the guy said, 'You mean the one with the man in front of the house?' That was the description of the picture: Man in front of house!
RL: Not 'Legend at Old Course'?
JN: No, 'Man in front of house'!
RL: What are your favorite holes in golf?
JN: Holes that meant a lot to me. Fifteenth at Augusta; 16th at Augusta; 13th at Augusta; 12th (at Augusta) -- those are all favorite holes of mine because I played them well and they were strategic holes for me. The eighth hole at Pebble -- that whole stretch has always been one of my favorites. I love the 14th hole at Murifield Village, a little short par-4. I think its spectacular. I always loved the 10th at Riviera, a little short par-4. Ive copied the idea of that hole 20 times on golf courses. Its a wonderful strategic, little golf hole. The 18th at Riviera Ive always liked. Its an uphill, blind tee shot just like the eighth hole at Pebble -- a lousy tee shot but a wonderful second. Ive always loved the scene coming up the 18th at Baltusrol. There are certain shots that you like and certain scenes that are part of your career and part of your life, like the 18th and 17th at St. Andrews. I mean the 18th at St. Andrews is a nothing golf hole but what it is, where it is, and all the things that happened there, all that makes it spectacular. I mean the 17th, the shot into the Road Hole is one of the toughest shots there is. I love the little par-3, the 12th hole at Lytham; its one of my favorites. Ive copied the theory of that hole many times. I like the collection bunker there.
RL: Whats your view of 17 at Pebble, where you hit flag in the 72 Open?
JN: Seventeen at Pebble Beach to me was a hole where you were not necessarily rewarded for what you did. You had to get a little bit lucky. My ball had to hit the pin. It could have gone through the green. That was a wonderful golf shot but I couldve been penalized by it. And to me, I like a hole where you get actually what youve done and not where you can end up with a screwy result. I dont like screwy results.
RL: Speaking of screwy results, Carnousties back in the major rotation next summer. It doesnt get any screwier than 1999, does it?
(Jack shakes his head and raises his eyes skyward.)
JN: I talked to Jean (Van de Velde) about it afterwards and I said, 'Jean why?' and he said, 'Its just a golf tournament,' and I said, 'Jean, its not just a golf tournament; this is your life, this is your career.' And he sort of took a lighthearted approach to it. He picked the wrong club off the tee and got away with it. Now all hes got to do is take a 9-iron and a 9-iron and win by three strokes. You talk about giving away a tournament! That was the worst display of giving away something Ive ever seen. I feel badly for him. He lost his place in history. Or maybe he gained a place in history, I dont know?
RL: Who were the greatest characters in the game when you played?
JN: (Sam) Snead was a character. He was a piece of work. Trevino was a real piece of work. Gary was a piece of work. I suppose we all are in ways. There wasnt more of a character than Lee Trevino. Lees wonderful. I love Lee. Hes a terrific guy and the older hes gotten, the better hes gotten as a personality and a person. But the things he used to say to people? Ohhhhh! He was the only guy in the world who could get away with it! He was wonderful.
RL: Any stories?
JN: Nothing you could put on the air.
RL: We dont seem to see as many characters today.
JN: I think the guys today travel with their business agents, their fitness guy, their mind guru and their teacher. Theyve got their entourage. When we started out on tour I mean, sure, I had a plane, Ive had it since my second year on tour, but we used to go to motels and wives would look after other wives kids while they went and watched their husbands play and the next day theyd switch around. Nowadays, guys pick their courses based on how good the day care center is. I mean this is ridiculous. We took care of our kids. Thats the way it is today. They have everything handed to them and as a result, I dont think you become much of a character.
RL: Curious, what do you think of Johnny Miller as an announcer?
JN: I sit down with him a lot and talk to him about it. He says, I just say it like I see it, and I say Yeah, but dont be rude; be a little careful of somebodys feelings with what you say. Youre supposed to call it the way you see it, thats your job, thats why you get good ratings, but be careful. And Johnny says, Youre right. I think Johnny does a good job.
RL: Youre talking about his harsh analysis of Craig Parrys swing at Doral, where he used the word puke?
JN: Thats the kind of stuff Johnny and I have talked about. I say, Johnny, you dont have to say that.
RL: How much did you enjoy your travels with Arnold in your early days?
JN: Arnold and I had some great times traveling through the years. Arnold was great to me when I was young. Arnold had a plane when I first started and we used to travel a lot to play in exhibitions and we got in his Aero Commander 500 and off wed go and the two of us would bounce around in the sky and off wed go to play an exhibition in 30-mile-an-hour winds and laugh about it and get back in the plane and go to the next place.
RL: People might say, 'I thought you were fierce and bitter rivals.'
JN: We were! Even when we got out of the airplane and went and played the round of golf wed try to beat each others brains out. Wed get back in the airplane and had a great time. But thats competition. That was the fun of it.
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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.