Third on the money list last season with $1.4 million, Brooks has won only $208,572 this season and is ranked 82nd. He's among the top 50 in just one statistical category—sand saves. His lone top 10 finish was a tie for seventh at the Players Championship back in March.
Brooks missed the cut at the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and figures that he'll have to rely on his short game if he's to have any chance next week. "You have to drive the ball in the fairway there, and if you miss the green, miss in the right places so you can get up and down," he says.
Despite the off year, Brooks remains upbeat. His course-management and design company will break ground on two courses in the Fort Worth area in October—both within 30 minutes of Brooks's house. Besides, there are worse things than a bad swing. "It's not life or death for me," he says. "I'm not satisfied with the way I'm playing, but all I can do is look ahead to what's left this year and many, many years to come. It's just one of those valleys. If this is as low as I go, I can take it."
Europe's Martin Might Take One for the Team
Miguel Angel Martín, currently eighth on the European Ryder Cup points list, has a broken bone in his left hand and might miss the match. "It doesn't look good," Martín said last week. "At the moment it's impossible for me to hit a shot." Martín, 35, injured his hand at the Loch Lomond World Invitational last month. He played the following week at the British Open with his hand wrapped, but the pain never left, and he missed the cut. He has withdrawn from his last three starts on the European tour and may need surgery.
Martín's misfortune will in some ways make European captain Seve Ballesteros's decisions easier. The injury could clear the way for Jose Maria Olazábal, who has fluctuated between 10th and 11th on the points list, to make the squad automatically. That would free Ballesteros from having to choose among Olazábal, Nick Faldo and Jesper Parnevik in making his two captain's picks.
Another Free Pass to the U.S. Open for Nicklaus?
Whipping up on an old nemesis, Johnny Miller, during the taping of a match for Shell's Wonderful World of Golf had Jack Nicklaus feeling so good about his game—and about Olympic Club in San Francisco, where he and Miller squared off on July 29—that he said he would "love to come back" to Olympic for next year's U.S. Open if the USGA would grant him another exemption.
Such an exemption would be Nicklaus's sixth, more than any other player has received. But Nicklaus has made the cut in six of the last seven majors, proof that he's still playing well enough to meet any competitive standard. Because Nicklaus is scheduled to play in the PGA at Winged Foot next week and in next April's Masters, the Open at Olympic would be his 154th consecutive major.
Nicklaus made a believer out of Miller, whom he destroyed 70-81. (Their match will air Oct. 29 on ESPN.) "He put on a clinic," said Miller, who double-bogeyed the 2nd and 3rd holes and three-putted five times. "If there was a U.S. Open here this week, he'd have a shot."