UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (AP) — Jack Nicklaus was able to keep the secret for two weeks, which according to his wife, Barbara, is quite the accomplishment.
”You have to know that in our family we have a motto that we don’t tell Jack anything that we don’t want the world to know,” Barbara Nicklaus said.
She is the 2015 recipient of the Bob Jones Award given by the USGA in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Jack Nicklaus received it in 1975 and was part of the voting committee that bestowed the honor on his wife this year. Barbara Nicklaus was presented with the award on Tuesday night.
Jack Nicklaus helped set up the reveal to his wife with kids, grandkids and USGA president Tom O’Toole all involved, although Barbara didn’t believe the gathering was for her.
”She says, `I wonder what award Jack is getting now,”’ Jack Nicklaus said. ”Of course, when Tom told her what she was doing, her jaw dropped and everybody was so delighted for Barbara because she’s meant so much to so many people and done so much for so many without ever really receiving any real credit for it.”
Barbara Nicklaus being honored capped a busy day for the couple. Earlier Tuesday, Jack Nicklaus visited American Lake Veterans Golf Course a few miles from where the U.S. Open is being played at Chambers Bay. Nicklaus’ design firm donated construction of nine new holes to create an 18-hole complex designed specifically to serve the needs of wounded veterans.
Nicklaus led a tour of the new holes and visited the facility on the grounds of the complex that rebuilds and reconstructs old golf clubs to be used for vets. He also hit a ceremonial tee shot along with Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry.
”It was a very, very interesting thing to watch these guys that have come back and have given for us and to help them as they try to re-enter society,” Nicklaus said. ”And golf has been a big, big booster to a lot of the guys that have the post traumatic syndrome, to come back mentally and so forth.”
HOMETOWN KID: Michael Putnam will always own a small piece of history at Chambers Bay.
He was the first player to play a competitive round on the course when it opened in 2007. So for a short time, Putnam could lay claim to the course record.
”I think I shot 70,” Putnam recalled. ”I definitely held the course record for at least a day.”
Having hit the first competitive shot on the course eight years ago, Putnam will also get the honor of having the first tee time and potentially being the first player to tee off on No. 1 when the first round begins on Thursday.
It’s an honor for the native of University Place, who has the advantage of sleeping in his own bed this week just a few miles from the golf course.
”I’m probably sleeping better than anybody else,” he said.
Putnam also hopes to have the benefit of course knowledge playing in his favor. He estimated having played the course 30 or so times in the last five years and then there’s his brother Joel, who will be on his bag for the tournament. Joel Putnam has caddied at Chambers Bay and looped around the course some 500 times.
There have already been ”discussions” between the brothers during practice rounds of ways to attack the course.
”He watched a lot of bad golf caddying for the amateurs that play out here, and so he’s seen a lot of the bounces that maybe I’m not going to have because I put a little more spin on the ball than a lot of those amateurs,” Putnam said. ”But the first couple of rounds last week, when we got out here, he definitely asserted that he knew what he was talking about because he’s seen it all.”
HOLE-IN-TWO? Cameron Tringale has an interesting debate. Does it count a hole-in-one if it was the second ball played on the hole?
Even Tringale wasn’t sure after hitting two tee shots on No. 9 at Chambers Bay on Tuesday and having the second one drop for an … ace?
”I didn’t know what to feel because I had already hit one. So does it really count or not?” Tringale said. ”It was one of those, like as it was happening that’s what I was kind of thinking about. But very cool, nonetheless.”
Tringale’s first shot on the par 3 – a 3-iron from about 226 yards – landed in the bunker and plugged. He teed a second and watched it land and roll toward the pin, but couldn’t see it drop. The roar of the crowd told him something special had happened.
”I’ve only had one before today, before this one. So it’s always something to see that ball disappear with a long club in your hand,” Tringale said. ”There were plenty of people up there to celebrate it. And it was pretty cool.”
WINDS OF CHANGE: A shift in the weather on Tuesday could be beneficial for players who also played practice rounds a day earlier.
Tuesday morning was cooler with low clouds in the morning before burning off around midday, temperatures in the 70s and winds coming off Puget Sound from the southwest. That was in stark contrast to Monday, when temperatures were at least 10 degrees warmer and the prevailing breeze was from the north.
Tiger Woods, who played practice rounds Monday and Tuesday morning, was amazed about the impact of the shifting breezes. The extended forecast calls for southwest winds through Friday before switching to north winds on Saturday.
”It’s just amazing how much it plays differently, with the different winds,” he said.
DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson said his design firm placed a bid on the project that eventually became Chambers Bay. Mickelson said he had a far different view for the project. ”I thought it was a spectacular piece of property. But it wouldn’t have turned out anything like this,” Mickelson said. ”Not good or bad, I think it’s a wonderful course. My vision was totally different.” … Ernie Els’ foundation, ”Els for Autism” will hold one of its regional golf challenge events on Aug. 10 at Chambers Bay. The challenge features two-person teams and is capped by the series finale in November in Las Vegas. Money raised from the event goes to Els’ foundation.