The two careers of Jack Nicklaus highlighted in new tribute book
LEMONT, Ill. (AP) — As publisher Martin Davis was working on a comprehensive book about Bobby Jones, he decided to call it "The Greatest of Them All." He shared this idea with frequent contributor, New York Times columnist Dave Anderson, who had only one problem.
"So what are we going to call the book on Jack?" Anderson asked him.
Available this week is a 328-page tribute to Jack Nicklaus that is titled, "Simply the Best!"
The coffee table book follows other magnificent contributions by Davis on golf's greatest legends, such as "The Hogan Mystique" and the aforementioned tome on Jones. It includes more than 600 photos, some of which Nicklaus himself had never seen.
Nicklaus was at the Deutsche Bank Championship for a Presidents Cup meeting with his U.S. team and to promote the book, a 3½-year effort that includes tributes from Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Gary Player.
"I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed living it," Nicklaus said.
While his record 18 professional majors defines Nicklaus, the book brings out what Nicklaus considers to be his two careers.
The first one was a 210-pound bull with a crew cut who smashed the ball and is largely responsible for turning golf into a power game. The second is a 185-pound "Golden Bear" who was among the best strategists in golf.
Nicklaus revealed during a reception why and how he lost weight, a change that occurred after the 1969 Ryder Cup.
He said his longtime doctor always told him he knew when it would be time to lose weight, and the light came on after returning from the Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale.
"It was the first time I ever got tired," Nicklaus said.
The weight-loss program was not as sophisticated as what you might see today. Nicklaus started with "Weight Watchers," and he spent three weeks running between shots while playing at Lost Tree.
"I would take five or six clubs with me and run after each shot," Nicklaus said. "It took me about 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. In three weeks, I lost 15 pounds."
He won the Sahara Invitational that fall in his first event, then won the Kaiser International Open Invitational. When the 1970 season opened in Honolulu, he shot 63 in the first round.
Nicklaus still considers 1972 through 1975 to be the best golf of his career, winning 21 times and five majors.
"I don't think the weight loss hurt me," he said.
GRAND SLAM: Jim Furyk's off-season could include a trip to Bermuda for the PGA Grand Slam if PGA champion Tiger Woods elects not to go. Tiger Woods has never missed the Grand Slam when eligible, and a decision is expected this week.
"I would like to play," Furyk said last week.
Furyk is the first alternate based on his runner-up finish at Oakmont and top 15s at the Masters and British Open. Ernie Els is next on the alternate list of past major champions, followed by Retief Goosen and Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont.
Furyk isn't sure, however, if the PGA of America will take him.
He will be playing in South Korea the week before, and he has verbally committed to a skins game the day after. The earliest he could get to Bermuda would be Monday evening on Oct. 15, meaning he would miss the pro-am. The Grand Slam is Oct. 16-17.
There is precedence for missing the pro-am. When the Grand Slam was held at Poipu Bay in Hawaii, Phil Mickelson skipped the pro-am in 2005 citing family obligations, while Tiger Woods missed that year with a stomach virus.
"I know there's precedence," Furyk said. "But I'm also an alternate. I like the PGA of America. And I would love to go, as long as I could work everything out."
BOO'S BOO-BOO: Sergio Garcia was disqualified at the PGA Championship when he signed an incorrect scorecard in the second round because Boo Weekley wrote down the wrong score and Garcia didn't stick around long enough to check it.
The PGA Tour Playoffs pairings put them together the first two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Three weeks later, not much changed.
"I fouled it up again," Weekley said.
Turns out Weekley put down the wrong score for Garcia in the first round and the second round. The only difference was Garcia and PGA Tour officials caught the mistake before he signed it.
"I don't know what it is about him," Weekley said. "I keep messin' up. It's aggravating."
STRICKER'S SILLY SEASON: When Steve Stricker had a breakthrough year in 1996 by winning two times, he got so caught up in the end-of-the-year festivities that he didn't take enough time for himself.
This year, he is limiting his silly-season schedule to two events that could not be farther apart, even though separated by only three weeks on the calendar. Stricker said he would play the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, then the Target World Challenge in California.
He is looking forward to Sun City, primarily as a father-daughter trip with nine-year-old Bobbi. They plan to arrive early to take in a safari and some other sightseeing.
"I asked her if she wanted to go to South Africa and she said, 'Sure!' She has no idea where South Africa is," Stricker said. "She probably thinks it's the next state over. But it will be fun. Nikki (his wife) and I went in '96 and we had a blast."
Stricker only played in the pro-am last year at Target, which is hosted by Tiger Woods. He had such a good time that he recently called tournament organizers asking if he could play the pro-am again. No need for that now. With his stellar season, he is No. 5 in the world and is eligible for the tournament. That means he can stay all week.
DIVOTS: Dick Ferris, former chairman of United Airlines, is retiring from the PGA Tour policy board after serving for more than 20 years, the last 14 years as the chairman. He will be replaced by Ed Whitacre, chairman emeritus of AT&T, and the executive largely responsible for putting together Tiger Woods' involvement with the new AT&T National. ... The FBR Open contributed US$7.8 million to local charities, the highest of any PGA Tour event in 2007 and $1 million more than the tournament raised last year. ... The Royal & Ancient has created the Mark. H. McCormack Medal for the leading player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. McCormack, the late founder of IMG, also has his name on the trophy given to the professional who leads the world ranking for the most weeks in a year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Phil Mickelson, who withdrew from the BMW Championship, has never finished in the top 25 in 10 starts at Cog Hill.
FINAL WORD: "We had a Nationwide Tour gallery." - Arron Oberholser, after playing in the final group at the Deutsche Bank Championship with Brett Wetterich. They were behind the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing.