Thursday, September 28

Player, Trevino, Nicklaus return for 3M Greats of Golf

Gary Player still plays golf almost every morning. Lee Trevino loves to hit balls but rarely sets foot on the course. And Jack Nicklaus played only twice last year, and on Saturday he was playing for the first time this year.

The three World Golf Hall of Fame members still enjoy getting together and telling stories. They addressed a variety of topics on Saturday prior to participating in the 3M Greats of Golf at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course.

Combined, the trio have won 33 majors.

“(Ben) Hogan was the best from tee to green, there’s no question about it,” Player said. “Jack was the best golfer.”

Trevino is definitely the best talker of the group. Trevino, 82, said he’s starting to get the yips when putting, and jokingly said it’s starting to work into the wedges.

“But I absolutely love this game,” Trevino said.

Nicklaus, 82, burst onto the PGA scene in the early 1960s when Arnold Palmer was in his heyday. A respected rivalry developed between the pair. Nicklaus, referred to as the Golden Bear, said Palmer helped nurture his game from him and was a mentor to him.

“Arnold took me under his wing,” said Nicklaus, winner of 18 majors. “Why? I don’t know. I may have had to fight Arnie’s Army, but I never had to fight Arnold.”

Palmer, who was 10 years older, got Nicklaus in the habit of following up every tournament he played by writing to the sponsor a thank-you note.

“That’s just a little thing, but it’s a big thing,” Nicklaus said.

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Palmer also got Nicklaus to change his approach around the greens, from always chipping the ball just off the putting surface to putting, which got the ball closer to the hole for the most part.

Trevino is famous for saying, “You can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen.”

On Saturday he made it clear that he was not a true fader of the golf ball. It just appeared that way.

“They always talked about me hitting the ball with a fade,” Trevino said. “I actually pushed the ball to fade. I aim left, third base, I swung first base, and (the ball) went second base. That’s just the way I played.

“I’d aim left in the rough and I’d push it to the right. My ball was actually more straight than fade. The lower the loft on the club the better I faded it. But when I got into the wedges, 7-irons, 9-irons, my ball didn’t curve a lot, they were just shoved, pushed.

“The writers wrote it up as a fade because they stood behind me and they saw me aiming to the North 40 and my ball was going right. They figured that it was a fade. heck no A fade is when the ball starts left of the target and curves.”

The families of Nicklaus and Player have remained close for years. So, there’s a friendly banter between Nicklaus and Player. While Nicklaus and Trevino have curtailed their golf playing, Player’s game is still strong.

“He’s learned how to play at age 86 better than he played at age 66,” Nicklaus said. “He plays fantastic. If he was back out here playing (PGA Tour Champions), he’d be dusting this field this week.”

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After making that statement, a smiling Nicklaus turned to his left and told Player, “Unless you choke.”

On Saturday, the team of Nicklaus, Player, Trevino and Annika Sorenstam finished first among four teams to win the nine-hole scramble format. Nicklaus rolled in the winning birdie putt on the 18th hole.

odds and ends

Tee times for Sunday’s final round of the Insperity Invitational are from 7:35 am-12:10 pm, with all golfers going off No. 1. Admission is free for the tournament. … Second-round scoring average was 71,460 over the par-72 layout. … Defending champion Mike Weir is tied for 17th at 4-under 140. He fired a 3-under 69 Saturday. …Wes Short Jr. withdrew during the round due to a back injury.

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