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Jack Nicklaus leads Canadian Skins Game

Jack Nicklaus, weeks away from his final Open appearance, rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole Monday to win four skins worth $48,231 and take the first-day lead at the Canadian Skins Game.

Canadian Stephen Ames collected two skins worth $28,135, while John Daly won one skin worth $12,058. Vijay Singh missed two short birdie putts and was shut out.

Nicklaus is using the two-day event as a warm-up for his final British Open at St. Andrews in 10 days, saying the competitive environment would force him to focus on his game.

``I knew if I had Stephen, Vijay and John, it would be pretty good competition. I hope they give me some tomorrow, Nicklaus said with a smile.

Playing the front nine of the Nicklaus North Golf Course he designed in 1995, the 65-year-old Nicklaus didn't miss a fairway, but was well behind his playing partners off the tee at the 459-yard, par-4 fourth. But his 5-iron from 194 yards stopped 10 feet from the pin, inside Singh and Daly, who hit their drives 75 yards farther.

After Daly and Singh missed birdie putts from 20 to 25 feet, Nicklaus calmly made his putt and drew a big roar from the gallery for winning four skins after the first three holes were carried over.

``I'd like to just play when I'm 65,'' Singh said, joking. ``Jack's beating us at 65.''

Daly claimed a skin at the 416-yar, par-4 fifth, making an 8-foot birdie putt after Ames missed on the same line.

Singh, who missed a birdie putt inside 5 feet on the opening hole, had another good chance to win a skin at the par-3 sixth when he hit his tee shot within 4 feet. But his putt caught the lip of the cup and spun out.

``You still have to put the ball in the hole,'' Singh said. ``I played well, I was fired up out there. I think Jack is fired up, too, he's playing well and he's very competitive, and it's a chance for him to kick our butts.''

Ames, a native to Trinidad and Tobago who received his Canadian citizenship in 2003, picked up a pair of skins worth $28,135 by making a 2-foot birdie putt at the seventh.

``To play with Mr. Nicklaus, I'm just enjoying this as much as I can and if a couple of putts go in the hole and I get a couple of skins, it's just a bonus for me,'' Ames said.

Ames and Daly birdied the par-5 eighth and all four players made par at No. 9, as two skins carried over to Tuesday.

The first six holes were worth $12,058 each, and the last three on the front nine were worth $16,077. On the back nine, Nos. 10-12 will be worth $16,067 each, and the final six holes will be worth $20,096

 

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