Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Golden Bear bemoans state of golf

Feuds, disputes detract from game says Golden Bear

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Tiger Woods patrols the fairways at Muirfield. Jack Nicklaus thinks Tiger and Sergio should just pipe down.

JAY LAPRETE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Tiger Woods patrols the fairways at Muirfield. Jack Nicklaus thinks Tiger and Sergio should just pipe down.

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Jack Nicklaus only has to look at some of the clashes on the PGA Tour in recent months to see how far golf has come since he was in his prime.

That's not necessarily a good thing.

"We were trying to figure out how to get somebody to write about anything when we played," Nicklaus said Wednesday on the eve of the Memorial. "I think today you have to figure out how you keep somebody from writing about anything. It's a big difference."

Vijay Singh is suing the PGA Tour over its anti-doping policy. A small group of players has retained a lawyer over the new rule involving long putters. And the dispute getting all the attention is Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, who didn't hide their dislike for each other until it reached a point last week that Garcia made a comment with racial overtures about Woods.

"The Sergio-Tiger thing, I mean, it's stupid," Nicklaus said. "Do guys have an issue one with another? They usually resolve it themselves. You guys want to resolve it in the newspapers today. Nobody needs that. And I think they both finally said, 'It's enough. Forget it, guys. Let's move on.' In our days, I suppose there were times when you had an issue with somebody and it came about. You never read about it."

The Woods-Garcia spat turned ugly last week when Garcia was jokingly asked at a European Tour dinner outside London if he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open. Trying to go along with the sarcasm, the Spaniard said he would serve fried chicken.

Garcia apologized that night in a statement and the next day in a news conference, though he said he had been unable to reach Woods over the phone. Woods was asked Wednesday if he considered getting in touch with Garcia to hear the apology so he wouldn't have to deal with it during a busy, important week at the U.S. Open.

What followed were his first public comments, though they were sparse.

"Was I supposed to go to Wentworth?" Woods said jokingly.

Asked if he would allow Garcia to reach him on the phone to be done with the matter before getting to Merion, Woods said, "That's already done with."

Did that mean Garcia apologized to him?

"Not in person, no," he said. When asked if Woods considered Garcia's news conference an apology, Woods said, "Move on."

On one matter there is no dispute -- Woods is playing some pretty good golf. When all the discord was mentioned, followed by the question of whether it was healthy for golf, Woods replied, "Well, I've won four times."

No one else has more than one win this year, which explains why Woods has opened another large lead at No. 1 in the world ranking, and why he is the favourite going into the next major championship. The first stop is Muirfield Village, were Woods is a five-time winner.

A year ago, Woods completed a Sunday rally with a chip from behind the 16th green that even Nicklaus, the tournament host, called one of the best shots he ever saw under the circumstances. The flop shot behind the green had to be executed to perfection -- anything too soft would turn away to the left down a ridge and leave some 30 feet for par, while anything too firm might run beyond the hole and off the green into the water.

Woods holed it for a birdie.

The Memorial has the top six players in the world ranking and the strongest field in golf among regular tour events. Rory McIlroy, Scott, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Brandt Snedeker are all playing. Given his history -- and this golf course -- it only seems as though it's Woods against everyone else.

There is something about the course Jack built and the guy who seems to own it.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 30, 2013 D2

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