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Golf Notes May 28

The putter Jack Nicklaus used when he set a scoring record in the 1967 U.S. Open is finally back where it belongs -- in his museum.

The putter, a replica of the Bulls Eye, was called "White Fang" because the face of the blade was painted white to reduce the glare from the sun.

Nicklaus borrowed it from a friend during a practice round at Baltusrol in 1967, and made eight birdies in his final round to finish at 275 for a four-stroke victory over Arnold Palmer. At the time, it was a record score for the U.S. Open.

Nicklaus won four other times with "White Fang," but that was his only major.

The mystical putter disappeared over time, then turned up in an odd place -- at a birthday party last month for his son Steve.

Joe Wessel, his son's roommate at Florida State University, said he had the putter for at least 20 years and brought it to the party in case it held some historical significance for Nicklaus.

"It was Steve's birthday," Nicklaus said. "But I got the best present."

The putter was turned over to the Jack Nicklaus Museum at Ohio State University. Except for the putter Nicklaus used to win the 1986 Masters, the museum now has all the clubs Nicklaus used to win his 18 majors.

Rankin returns
The most inspiring performance in golf last week belonged to a woman, but it might not have been Annika Sorenstam at the Colonial.

Reilley Rankin was a rising star in 1999 when she landed awkwardly after diving from a 70-foot cliff. She broke her back and sternum, and bruised her heart, lungs and aorta. It was feared she would never walk again, much less play golf.

Rankin won on the Futures Tour last week in Indiana, beating Soo Young Moon on the second hole of a playoff in the Northwest Indiana Classic.

"I asked myself if I was going to live," Rankin said. "And I asked if I was going to be able to play golf again. I know the only reason I'm here is my passion for this. I was determined to see this through. Believe me, I'm grateful for every opportunity I have."

Double standard
Annika Sorenstam noted how Tom Pernice was "very, very friendly" when she arrived at Colonial and that he offered to help in any way.

That's why it was peculiar, if not disappointing, to see Pernice trying to stir up trouble by suggesting the PGA Tour policy board might have to vote against women playing in the future.

"It's a major issue on tour, no question," he said. "Players just don't think it's right."

Pernice is one of four players on the nine-man policy board, but he doesn't speak for the majority.

Olin Browne and Brad Faxon were baffled by his comments. David Toms, who hasn't even been to his first board meeting, was blindsided during his pre-tournament news conference and quickly put the issue to rest.

Nick Price and Vijay Singh took a beating for expressing their views, but give them credit for one thing: At least they were consistent.

People vs. pros
The latest made-for-TV event is taking golf to the masses.

It's called People vs. the Pros, which will pit John Daly and Lee Trevino in separate matches against amateurs who can play off their handicap.

Two hundred amateurs earned a spot in the 54-hole qualifier, which starts Friday at Lake Las Vegas, through a sweepstakes and an Internet auction. Daly will play one of the winners, while Trevino will play the 50-and-over champion.

The winner gets $100,000 and $50,000 goes to the loser. Players lose their amateur status only if they accept the prize money.

Daly did not play in the Colonial, but he could wind up playing against a woman. Among the amateurs in the qualifier is Kay Ziplow, who plays off an 11 handicap.

"I'm not against it," Daly said. "I think it would be great. Beats looking at a man."

Piece of work
Luke Donald has no plans to change jobs, but he recently had one of his oil paintings sold at an auction for charity.

Donald, who won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic last year, was serious about painting his final two years in high school in England, and graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Art Theory and Practice.

"I've done one painting, that was the end of last year," Donald said. "I struggle to find time to do it. It's almost more time-consuming than golf is. The two mixed together doesn't give me a lot of time for fun stuff."

Donald said he works from photographs, some of which he has taken himself, and described his painting as a blend of realism with some abstraction.

Divots
John Huston stayed home from the Colonial and now has to qualify for the U.S. Open. He was No. 50 in the world ranking going into last week, and was bumped one spot when Trevor Immelman went from No. 61 to 38th by finishing second in the Volvo PGA Championship. Others who have to qualify: Stewart Cink, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia and Chad Campbell, who dropped out of the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list. ... Juli Inkster's victory in the Corning Classic marked the first back-to-back wins for Americans on the LPGA Tour since May 5, 2002. ... Ten of the top 30 players on the PGA Tour money list are at least 40 years old. ... While USA Network's television ratings of the first rounds at Colonial reach record levels, so did PGA Tour.com -- more than 27 million page views during a 24-hour period Thursday. ... Players in the top 30 in the world ranking have won 18 of the 21 events this year on the PGA Tour.

Stat of the week
Kenny Perry at the Colonial became the fourth player this year to win by at least six strokes. Only two players won by that many all of last year.

Final word
"Here we are in the middle of the NBA playoffs, and everybody is covering the Colonial. Nothing wrong with that." -- David Toms.

 

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