The Golden Bear’s grandson thrills Masters crowd with an ace of his own

Jack Nicklaus probably thought he had seen everything in golf, and then something happened on Wednesday afternoon that brought a tear to his eye.

Gary ‘G.T.’ Nicklaus, Jr., far right, celebrates hitting a hole-in-one on the ninth tee with his grandfather Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2018 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Jack’s grandson G.T. Nicklaus, who was caddying for the Golden Bear in the Masters Par-3 Contest, stepped up to the tee on the final hole and tried his luck, just for fun. Of course, the ball sailed over a broad lake, landed safely on the green and then trickled and tracked and after the longest while plopped into the cup for a hole-in-one.

Shocking? Sure, but G.T., the 15-year-old son of former PGA Tour player Gary Nicklaus, Jr. and a freshman at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, has played before crowds before. In the PNC Father/Son Challenge with his grandfather as a playing partner. In the Florida state high school championship tournament, too, where he shot an 85 as an eight-grader a few years ago.

“You always want the best for your kids and your grandkids,” Nicklaus told ESPN. “But when you’ve got a grandson who comes along and the kid makes a hole-in-one at the biggest venue in the world on day when he is caddying for his grandfather…Wow.

“This is very, very special…One obviously I’ll never forget.”

Back in December, when Jack and G.T. teamed to finish 15th at the PNC Father/Son Challenge in Orlando, Jack said “He likes being in front of people. I always looked at playing golf out in front of people as fun, and I think he has pretty much the same attitude.”

The Masters Par-3 is designed to be entertaining for players and their families, with little kids bopping along in tiny caddy outfits and teenagers, like G.T., sometimes playing a shot or two.

For one of the kids to outdo the pros, however, and get the loudest cheer of the day, is almost too much to ask. G.T.’s ace turned into a bigger story than the fact that Tom Watson, 68, won the nine-hole event with a score of six-under-par 21. He’s the oldest champion in the history of the Par-3 and played in a group with Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Here’s one last quote from Jack last December about G.T., one of his and Barbara’s 22 grandchildren.

“G.T. is a big kid and has the potential to be a very talented player,” Jack said. “He is already a nice player, and his game should only get better as time goes on. So only time will tell whether he will be and wants to be a really good player. For now, I just want him to enjoy this experience, just as I will enjoy it.”

On Thursday morning Nicklaus and Player will tee off at No. 1 as honorary starters for the first round of the Masters. Will G.T. carry his grandfather’s bag? Might be a good idea, for good luck.

[Wade’s return has not significantly improved Heat in stat that counts most]

[Wildest man in March Madness once coached CBA team in West Palm]

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Some crazy numbers to show just how far Tiger’s game has gone off the rails

Perhaps you’ve heard that Tiger Woods was apocalyptically bad last week at the Memorial, failing to break 300 in a 72-hole event for the first time in his PGA Tour career.

Here are some numbers, however, that bring into sharper focus just how different this player is from the one who owned the game for so long.

Tiger had six double bogeys or worse in the 2015 Memorial. From 1999-2001, playing in the same tournament and on the same course, he totaled just two doubles over the entire stretch and won all three years.

Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd following his final round of the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 7, 2015, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd following his final round of the Memorial golf tournament June 7, 2015, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

In 2000 Tiger played Muirfield Village at 19-under-par 271 and lost just four strokes to par along the way. He made a total of four bogeys in four rounds that year.

Last week, in cruel contrast, Tiger finished 14-over and lost four strokes to par on a single hole, taking a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 18 Saturday.

In 2001 Tiger won the Memorial by seven strokes. Last week he finished dead last among those who made the cut and the gap between him and the next worst players was eight strokes.

During his run of three straight Memorial victories from 1999-2001,Tiger missed a total of 35 fairways. Last week he missed 31 in the course of one Memorial tournament.

Credit the man for making a little joke about the experience during a Monday press day for August’s Quicken Loans National, hosted by the Tiger Woods Foundation.

“It’s about getting reps,” Tiger said. “I got a lot of reps this weekend.”

On that same Monday Luke Donald was grinding out a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifying appearance at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter. He made it at four-under 140 and it took 141 to make a playoff for the last of four invitations to next week’s U.S. Open at the quirky Chambers Bay club near Tacoma, Wash.

Tiger, of course, is still working on a 10-year U.S. Open qualifying exemption from 2008 win. Still, would he have been able to shoot the necessary score to get in if he had been sweating it out at Bear Lakes? It’s a good thing he didn’t have to find out.

That 85 Tiger shot in the Memorial was bad, but some of these other trends, viewed in the context of a tournament he has won five times, are even worse.

His game has gone so far off the rails that he looked and played like a total stranger on Jack’s course, like a guy who had never won anything anywhere.

[Hiring Jennings closest thing to Loria managing the Marlins himself]

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