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Todays plays lack discipline say legends

It's the familiar refrain of Grumpy Old Men: Kids these days.

No discipline.

Got things way too easy.

This wasn't a group of retirees lounging around a coffee shop, though. These were five of golf's all-time greats -- Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Tom Watson, who have 212 PGA Tour victories and 51 majors among them.

The targets of their barbed comments: today's PGA players -- except Tiger Woods.

``I think Tiger's the most disciplined player out there,'' Nicklaus said Tuesday at a news conference before the Children's Mercy Hospital Golf Classic at Blue Hills Country Club. ``I don't see any other disciplined players out there.''

Woods has the other players ``buffaloed,'' Nicklaus added.

``Not once did I ever evaluate my chances against these four guys and say, 'I don't have a chance,''' he said.

Player said many golfers today are happy to finish second or third.

``I get so (ticked) off at that,'' he said. ``The only person who remembers if you finish second is your wife and your dog -- and that's if you have a good wife and a good dog.''

And until other players start winning majors on a consistent basis, Palmer said, golf will continue to lack great rivalries.

``Rocco Mediate made the statement that he was not going to play the British Open because the course didn't suit his game,'' Palmer said, drawing a laugh from spectators as he pretended to rub away tears of sympathy. ``He's one of the strongest and best strikers in the game. I helped nurse him along. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.''

Mediate's attitude wouldn't have cut it in the past, Nicklaus said. In his generation, ``Nobody cares what the golf course is -- you take your game and you go play golf.''

Blame the comfortable living that golf can provide even middling pros, the five said.

``Tiger Woods won $1 million for winning the U.S. Open,'' Palmer said. ``The total prize money my first year on the tour (1954) was $750,000. ... If you weren't in the top one or two, in a couple of years you were back home mining coal.''

Now, Player said, on the Super Senior circuit for golfers age 60 and up, ``If you don't fall out of the golf cart you can make 10 grand.''

When golfers of his generation turned pro, Nicklaus said, ``We played the game for the game. We all said the same thing: 'If you play well, the money will take care of itself.'''

One name that came up as a possible rival to Woods was that of Phil Mickelson, who is still trying to win his first major.

``If I could just teach him to putt,'' Trevino said.

Watson, a Kansas City native and five-time British Open winner, has played host the charity event for 23 years.

Woods declined his invitation to play, Watson said, citing a desire to concentrate on his PGA Tour play and his own foundation work in Florida.

``He's doing what he needs to do,'' Watson said. ``I have no problem with that.''

Tuesday afternoon's 18-hole exhibition raised an additional $18,000 for the hospital, besides money raised from sponsorships and ticket sales.

Watson won six holes, Nicklaus four, Player one and the others were halved.

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