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Player announced last week that as far as he was concerned, the PGA Seniors was another major. Nicklaus sniffed. This was a "different category," he said. "I don't see Norman and Ballesteros and Faldo out there."
On Saturday evening, as Nicklaus chipped and putted in the gloaming with the mowers buzzing around him, somebody asked him if the field was still cowed by his presence. "That's not for me to answer," he said. Then he added, "The reason I came out here is to help these other guys."
Nicklaus most certainly did help. On Sunday a golf fan could have given his channel selector a workout. On NBC, Trevino was chasing Nicklaus chasing Player. On CBS, in the PGA Tour's Heritage Classic, Payne Stewart stalked Nick Faldo stalking Greg Norman stalking Steve Jones. That fate took over—rain delays caused NBC to sign off without a winner, and Stewart beat Jones and Larry Mize in a playoff—wasn't Jack's fault.
Trevino faced Sunday's round with his usual equanimity. "I've paid off the mortgage," he said. Player, master of a different sort of psych, said he thought being chased by Nicklaus and Trevino would be misery. "It's my idea of a crappy day," he said. As for Jack, Sunday was just another Good Samaritan gig.
Sadly, for golf history fans, the three-way face-off fizzled. With birdies at the 9th and 10th holes, Player found his comfort zone, and after that his lead was never challenged. Even spanking a ball from the 16th tee into a lagoon he could hardly see after a rain delay only reduced his lead from four strokes to two. Player finished with 73 for a seven-under-par 281. Rodriguez, playing a group ahead, crashed the party with a final-round 66 to wind up ahead of Nicklaus and Trevino, who finished with 72 and 71, respectively.
"I wish Nicklaus would play every week," said Player, who left for Johannesburg with the $75,000 winner's check. "He's putting a lot of money in a lot of people's pockets."
Anything to be helpful.