Jack Nicklaus, right, shook partner Tom Watson's hand after Watson made a $230,000 putt.
Players like new format
Champions Skins Game
WAILEA, Maui » The new alternate-shot format is here to stay if the players have anything to say about it.
Granted, there are some oddities involved and it's hard to get into a rhythm, but for the most part, the eight players taking part in yesterday's 2006 Wendy's Champions Skins Game, won by Raymond Floyd and Dana Quigley, enjoyed it.
"I did," said Jack Nicklaus, who had a hand in the format change. "I think the only thing is people expected to see lower scores. But you don't see lower scores when you're playing alternate shot because -- if one guy gets rolling, OK -- but it's not just one guy playing, it's two guys playing. And you've got to get both of them playing.
"I think actually that will keep more people in the skins game, instead of one guy running away with it. I thought it was fun. It's the type of event I want to play in. I don't want to play any more golf. I've played enough golf.
"I always loved what Henry Cotton did when he retired (after winning five British Opens). Once he retired, he never putted another 4-footer. Anything inside 4 feet was good because I've putted enough 4-footers in my life. So, those are the kind of things I've done. I don't have the desire to go out and beat the bushes. I had a good time doing what we did."
Nicklaus and playing partner Tom Watson were successful, winning eight skins worth $210,000. The other 10 skins for $510,000 wound up in the back pockets of Quigley and Floyd. Hale Irwin and Gary Player, and Peter Jacobsen and Arnold Palmer were shut out of the money, but nobody complained.
"You never know what shot will count most in a skins game," Jacobsen said. "We had a hard time getting anything going, but if a couple of shots go in here and there for us, we're right in it."
"I like the new format because it's a good blend of the older and younger guys out here," Palmer said. "We had a hard time getting into a rhythm, but we still had our chances at the end. It was disappointing in some ways, but I still had a good time."
Irwin and Player, who missed four makeable birdies worth $600,000, didn't attend the media session. Neither did Watson, who injured his hip down the stretch and opted for Nicklaus to take charge. He agreed that getting into a rhythm could be a problem, but thought there were more positives than negatives.
"It's hard for me to get into a flow hitting a shot every 20 seconds," Nicklaus said. "I always enjoyed playing it in the Ryder Cup format. The ability to get eight different golfers here is kind of neat for you guys. I think it produces a lot of interesting things."
Quigley and Floyd certainly enjoyed it and said as much.
"I think the format is incredible," Floyd said. "I think it was well thought out. I think the skins format has been the same for so long, I think it was getting a bit stale. I think this will infuse some life into it."
Quigley pointed out the oddities that occur in the format.
"You hit one shot and it might be two or three holes before you hit another one," Quigley said. "Raymond really didn't have a putt on that back nine until he had the putt to win all the money on 17. It's a little different thing. It's a very tough format to hold your patience and the patience to keep going. And Raymond aspired to that."
Leadbetter opens academy: The David Leadbetter Golf Academy and the Wailea Golf Club have signed an agreement to open a school on Maui, tentatively set for this spring.
"We're thrilled to be the site of the first David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Hawaii," said Anne Takabuki, president and chief operating officer of Wailea Golf LLC. "This association with Mr. Leadbetter is a superb fit for a premium golf destination such as Wailea."
There are currently 30 full-time David Leadbetter Golf Academy locations in 14 countries across North America, Europe and Asia. One of Leadbetter's students is Michelle Wie.
Records fall: The $410,000 won by Floyd and Quigley is a record for most money won at a single hole. The $510,000 total snaps the mark held by Irwin, who won $450,000 in 2002.
The $260,000 earned by Nicklaus and Watson beat the old record of $160,000 earned on the front nine. Nicklaus has now won $1.36 million on the front nine, more than any other golfer. He also has earned $2.14 million in this event and has a career-leading 86 skins to his credit.