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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, June 30, 2000



GOLF WATCH

Tapa

Don’t count Golden
Bear out quite yet

OTHER than Tiger Woods' awesome runaway victory, the other emotional moment in the 2000 U.S. Open involved Jack Nicklaus and his final stroll at Pebble Beach.

NBC-TV made a big deal about it, saying that it most likely was his last appearance after 44 U.S. Opens.

Realizing that it's not the U.S. Open without Nicklaus, the USGA had given him a special exemption. That enabled Nicklaus to play in the national championship once more with feeling.

Nicklaus has had a lifelong love affair with the U.S. Open.

It's an especially significant tournament for him because the first of his 70 PGA Tour victories was the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont, when he beat Arnold Palmer to start a new era in golf.

Nicklaus said he will refuse any more exemptions to the U.S. Open. But that he won't play in the 2001 U.S. Open shouldn't be counted out.

The odds are against him. It's probably the last one, he said after missing the cut at Pebble Beach.

But Nicklaus hedged a bit.

"Well, if I won the U.S. Senior Open and I was playing well . . . ," he said at the time.

Well, the time of that "if" is here this week.

Nicklaus shot a 67 and was only three strokes back of leader Bruce Fleisher after yesterday's first round of the U.S. Senior Open at Saucon Valley.

If Nicklaus wins, it would give him an automatic berth in the 2001 U.S. Open. Of course, he would have to win. But who wouldn't be pulling for him this weekend?

"Let's go win this tournament, then we will worry," Nicklaus said.

All we can say is, "Go get 'em Jack."

ISLAND TIEs:

There's a touch of Hawaii at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.

The first assistant professional there is Jeff Purtell, who once worked at Waikoloa Village and Mauna Lani after graduating from the University of Delaware, some 50 miles from Saucon Valley.

Purtell and his wife, Karen, were married at sunset by the 15th hole at Mauna Lani's South Course in April 1995.

"My wife and I certainly miss Hawaii. Besides being a great place to live, we have close friends there and we're planning a trip to Hawaii in January," Purtell said.

Kauai pro Dan Nishimoto earned a spot in the Senior Open by winning the local sectional qualifying, but he wasn't in yesterday's starting field.

OPEN LINKS:

What is it about the U.S. Open?

The only PGA Tour victory won by Orville Moody was a major - the 1969 U.S. Open.

Then there's the case of John Schlee, who should have won the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont. But he lost by one stroke when Johnny Miller shot a 63 - the best final round score in any major.

Thus, Schlee was deprived of the national championship.

His only PGA Tour victory was the 1973 Hawaiian Open. And the guy he beat by two strokes? Orville Moody.

Schlee died June 2 on his 61st birthday in Costa Mesa, Calif., after suffering for several years from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.

GOING FOR THE BOLD:

Ever notice how some names in the golf agate are bold-faced? Pam Kometani, Cindy Flom, Peter Jacobsen, Hale Irwin, Aaron Bengoechea and Keoke Cottner, Christel Tomori?

Well, it's because they're golfers with ties to Hawaii. They're either from here, went to the University of Hawaii or a local high school. or represent resort golf courses such as Jacobsen (Waikoloa) and Irwin (Kapalua).



Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
bkwon@starbulletin.com



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