Nicklaus Limps at U.S. Senior Open
Jul. 23, 1998
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Golden Bear was slowed to a hobble by a sore left hip in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open.
Jack Nicklaus, beginning his quest for a third Senior Open championship on Thursday, limped noticeably while carding a 3-over-par 74, and then said he had no plans to play in any more tournaments this year.
``It hurt a little bit today,'' Nicklaus said of his arthritic left hip. ``I had a little bit of a problem with it. It generally doesn't bother my swing, but it did today.
``It comes and goes a little bit. It'll be better tomorrow, I hope. I never know from day to day what's going to happen.''
When did the pain start?
``Thirty-five years ago in San Francisco,'' he said with a smile. ``Today, probably about 8 or 9. That hip has been a problem for 35 years. My hardest part was just playing well.
``I purposely am going to have it be my last event of the year so I can figure out what to do.''
Later, Nicklaus backed off that statement a little bit, saying, ``I don't have any other tournaments scheduled right now. I'm not going to play again until I can do what I need to do with the leg. I'll figure out what I need to do (next week).''
Hip replacement surgery seems likely in the near future for arguably the greatest golfer of all time.
Nicklaus, who opted not to play in the British Open last week, snapping his streak of competing in 146 straight PGA Tour majors, was three shots off the pace midway through the opening round at the Riviera Country Club.
Jay Sigel, who played in the same threesome with Nicklaus, carded an even-par 71 over the 6,906-yard course, as did Hugh Baiocchi and Bob Murphy.
All seemed pleased with their rounds.
``Par will be a wonderful score at the end of the week,'' Murphy said after a round that included an eagle-3 on the first hole, a double bogey-6 on the third hole, four bogeys and four birdies.
Sigel had three birdies and three bogeys and Baiocchi had five birdies and five bogeys.
One shot off the pace and in the clubhouse were John Grace, Billy King, Tom Shaw, Ed Dougherty, Isao Aoki and Brian Barnes. And several more came in at 73.
Senior Tour earnings leader Hale Irwin shot a 77, his worst round of the year.
Gil Morgan and Larry Nelson, who along with Irwin were considered pre-tournament favorites, were among the late starters along with Raymond Floyd, Dave Stockton and Arnold Palmer.
Irwin and Morgan have each won four tournaments this year and Nelson two. Morgan is trying to become the second player to win three senior majors in one year, joining Nicklaus, who accomplished the feat in 1991.
Nicklaus, 58, attempting to become the oldest winner of the Senior Open, was 1-over through 14 holes, but carded a double bogey-6 on 15, a birdie-4 at 17, and a bogey-5 on 18.
On the par-3 16th, he backed off a shot after beginning his backswing, then grimaced in pain after hitting his shot into a bunker. He then hit a wonderful shot out of the trap for a tap-in to save par.
``Jack looks uncomfortable, even walking,'' Sigel said. ``It is painful to watch him. He played very, very well. In many cases, he played better than I did. He's a champion, to say the least.''
Nicklaus didn't agree with Sigel's assessment of his game.
``I played what I thought was a fairly poor round,'' he said. ``I only hit eight greens today. If you only hit eight greens, you're not going to play very well.''
Divots: The oldest player to win the U.S. Senior Open was Roberto De Vicenzo, who won the first such tournament in 1980 when he was 57 years, 2 months, 15 days. Players had to be 55 to play in that tournament. A year later, the eligibility age was reduced to 50, just in time for Palmer to win for the first and only time. ... The Senior Open offers a purse of $1.5 million with $267,500 going to the winner. ... A field of 156 was entered in the 72-hole event which finishes Sunday. It's being played in California for the first time. ... Defending champion Graham Marsh had a 5-over-par 76 in the first round. ... Charlie Borner withdrew 25 minutes before his 7:40 a.m. tee time because of a sudden back injury while practicing on the driving range. He was replace by Mike Shea, who shot 85.