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Notes, quotes and news from the world of golf

May 27, 1997

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) _ Tom Watson hadn’t won on the PGA Tour since 1987 until taking the Memorial Tournament last year in what was one of the most emotional moments of 1996, ending with an embrace by Jack Nicklaus on the 18th green.

Watson, who remains one of the best ballstrikers in the game but has been betrayed by erratic short putting in recent years, wrapped up the two-stroke victory with a 15-foot downhill birdie putt on the final green.

Asked Tuesday if he had one vivid memory from last year’s victory, Watson laughed, looked down and gave an answer that showed that his problems on the greens are never far from his thoughts.

``Yeah,″ he said. ``That putt going in on 18 because if it didn’t I didn’t know how I was going to make the next one.″

Watson, 48, is not at the top of his game as he comes into Muirfield Village to try to defend his title.

``It’s not the best,″ he said about his game. ``The iron game is suspect. My timing is a little off right now. But it was last year coming in here.″

Watson described his victory last year as simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

``I holed a couple of bunker shots,″ he said, ``I made some putts. You miss four or five short putts and there goes the week. That didn’t happen here last year.″

From the way he was talking it didn’t sound like he expected such good luck this year.

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TIGERS AND BEARS: Tiger Woods’ 12-stroke victory in the Masters made Jack Nicklaus’ prediction a year ago that Woods would win at least 10 times at Augusta seem a little less ridiculous.

And Nicklaus, the most successful golfer in history, seems comfortable with handing over his crown if the time should come.

``If I am considered (the best golfer ever), then I had to replace someone else,″ Nicklaus said Tuesday at Muirfield Village, the course he designed for the Memorial Tournament. ``Records, as they say, are made to be broken.″

While Nicklaus said ``I don’t see anything stopping him,″ he also noted that maintaining greatness over years is not easy. Nicklaus, after all, won major championships 24 years apart.

``He’s just starting his life,″ Nicklaus said about Woods. ``I’m really quite interested in seeing what happens to him.″

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WOODS OR WOULDN’T: The PGA Tour can just about set its clock by Tiger Woods. He does a Tuesday afternoon news conference at any tournament he is in. Until this week.

Woods, who received $350,000 to play in a pro-am Monday near Pittsburgh about 150 miles from here, told Memorial Tournament organizers late Monday that he was flying home to Orlando and would not get here until Wednesday.

That jaunt turned a 150-mile trip into a 3,000-mile roundtrip to Florida.

Apparently after his fourth-place finish at the Colonial he decided to go to Disney World.

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DIVOTS: The purse at the Memorial is $1.9 million with $342,000 going to the winner. ... Tom Kite was the only member of the Bayer Aspirin Strokes Against Stroke team to play last week, making nine birdies and giving the team 123 this month. Bayer gives $1,000 to the American Heart Association for every birdie Kite, Nancy Lopez, Tom Weiskopf and Chris DiMarco make in May. This is the last week of the event and Bayer hopes to surpass $150,000. ... Tiger Woods is now No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings, passing Tom Lehman and trailing only Greg Norman. ... Steve Elkington withdrew from the Memorial because of the death of 1960 PGA Championship winner Jay Hebert, a friend of his from Houston. ... The green ribbons worn by players and caddies as a show of support for veteran caddie Jeff ``Squeeky″ Medlen, who has leukemia, will be available to the public this week at the Memorial. Ribbons will be given out for a minimum donation of $5. The proceeds will be split between the Jeff ``Squeeky″ Medlen Leukemia Trust Fund and the Leukemia Society of America.

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