- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
This is the
underpinning of all tournament golf: We believe the scores. After Annika
Sorenstam plays her opening round at the Samsung World Championship this week,
the AP will report that the defending champion shot some two-digit score. No
headline will say, sorenstam claims to shoot 68. She'll turn in a score, and
we'll trust it.
Nicklaus went on to play high-level amateur golf through the 1950s and on the Tour through the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s. He was never late for a tee time. Not once. Every time out, thousands of times all told, he counted his clubs on the 1st tee and his strokes in the scorer's tent. His golf manners were famously pensive and laborious--Angie, find a rules guy, he'd tell his caddie, Angelo Argea--but he was always sure about what he was doing, and his career was unblemished by a single rules fracas.
Yet one incident has been on his mind for 32 years now. During the fourth round of the 1974 British Open at Royal Lytham, Nicklaus was in the hunt, trying to catch his friend Gary Player. On the 15th hole, a long par-4, Nicklaus's approach finished in a pot bunker 80 yards short of the green. Nicklaus tried to blast out, but the ball caught the wall of the bunker, ricocheted off it, went over Nicklaus's head and back into the trap. During his follow-through, his clubhead smashed into the wall of the bunker "and a whole lot of crap went flying," Nicklaus says--pieces of turf, sand, small rocks. Nicklaus lowered his head to keep the debris out of his eyes and something hit him on the back of his shoulder.
There was a rules official walking with the group--Dey, on the scene again, less than 10 feet from Nicklaus.
"Did the ball hit me?" Nicklaus asked. Dey, the first commissioner of the modern PGA Tour, was one of Nicklaus's mentors.
"No," Dey said, "the ball went over you. It never touched you."
Nicklaus butchered the hole. In the scorer's tent, before signing his card, he turned to Dey and asked again, "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely," Dey replied.
Nicklaus signed for a 71 and finished third, five shots behind Player's winning score.