SAN FRANCISCO – Jack Nicklaus will always be linked with his four U.S. Open titles – not just in the record book, but on the gold medal given to the winner.
Starting this year, the U.S. Open champion will receive the “Jack Nicklaus Medal.” The medal has been awarded to the winner every year since the U.S. Open began in 1895. It previously did not have a name. The winner also gets a silver trophy.
The USGA also announced it is adding 1,000 square feet to its museum for the Jack Nicklaus Room to celebrate a career that includes two U.S. Amateur titles, the four U.S. Opens and two U.S. Senior Opens.
Nicklaus joins Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Mickey Wright as players with their own rooms at the USGA Museum at its headquarters in Far Hills, N.J.
“Kind of neat, isn’t it?” Nicklaus said. “Take an old guy and honor him. I think that’s pretty nice. It’s pretty humbling and meaningful.”
Nicklaus set the benchmark in professional golf with his 18 majors. He is best known for winning the Masters green jacket six times, and he won five PGA Championships. Often overlooked is the history he has with the USGA and its championships — from the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur, the Walker Cup he played in Scotland, and even the U.S. Junior Amateur that he never won.
Nicklaus played his first USGA event at age 13, the 1953 U.S. Junior Amateur at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. He recalls sauntering onto the tee about 30 seconds before his name was announced for his 7 a.m. tee time. He saw USGA executive director Joe Dey, who told him, “Young man, 30 seconds later and you’ll be starting on the second tee, 1 down.”
“That was my introduction to USGA golf,” Nicklaus said. “I promise you, I was never late for a starting time.”
Long-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros used his driver to record a hole-in-one on the 288-yard, par-4 seventh hole.
“You need to have luck to play good golf, I think,” Quiros said. “Unfortunately, it was in a practice round. But it is a good sign, isn’t it?”
The USGA said it planned to move up the tee on the hole to a spot 260 to 270 yards away on the uphill hole during the Open to tempt more players into going for the green.
10-SHOT RULE OUT
What had been debated for years is now official. The top 60 and ties will still make the cut, but the USGA will no longer include everyone within 10 shots of the 36-hole lead.
USGA executive director Mike Davis said the decision was mainly to protect against too many players on the weekend, and that no one has ever made the cut under the 10-shot rule and gone on to win the U.S. Open.
Perhaps the most glaring problem came at Oakland Hills in 1996, when 108 players made the cut.
The flip side was 1993, when Ernie Els made the cut because of the 10-shot rule. He closed with 68-67 on the weekend to tie for seventh, which made him exempt for qualifying the following year. Els won that next year at Oakmont for the first of his three majors.