Notebook: Big winners often change goals in mid-event to keep focus
By Doug Ferguson
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Playing with a big lead going into the final round isn't always easy. Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia share a PGA Tour record for losing six-shot leads, Norman famously at the 1996 Masters, Garcia at Quail Hollow in 2005.
Sometimes, it helps to play a game within the game.
Tiger Woods had a 10-shot lead going into the final round of the 2000 U.S. Open and was driven by one goal – to play the final round without a bogey. He played bogey-free in the final round at Pebble Beach for a 67 – the best score of the day – and won by 15 shots.
Jordan Spieth seems to have figured it out. He had a five-shot lead going into the final round at Kapalua last month and set a target of 30-under par to keep his drive. That would require a 67, and he got it with a birdie on the last hole to win by eight shots.
Lanny Watkins was talking about his 1985 victory at Riviera on Tuesday when he explained how he pulled away from the field.
"I set a goal for when I was leading – I did this once or twice before, and I did it at Riviera – not to have a 5 on my card," Watkins said. "I was still grinding to make birdie on the 17th (a par 5). I shot 64, and if Hal Sutton hadn't birdied the 18th, I would have won by eight.
"It's really important to do that," he said. "It helped me keep my focus."
NICKLAUS MEMORIES: Golf Channel's latest special to air during the Masters will be known by a number, not a name: '86.
Golf Channel will commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the last major Jack Nicklaus won with a one-hour special on his 1986 Masters victory, when he shot 30 on the back nine to win a sixth green jacket (and 18th professional major) at age 46.
As part of the special, the network is asking fans to submit their own stories on where they were when Nicklaus won and it will select which stories to include.
"Nicklaus' remarkable comeback win is one of those rare moments in sports where we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on that Sunday three decades ago," said Keith Allo, Golf Channel vice president of programming development and original productions. "To help celebrate this anniversary, we are eager to hear recollections from fans who were watching history in the making."
DIVOTS: Arnold Palmer has his tournament at Bay Hill. Jack Nicklaus has his tournament at Muirfield Village. And now Gary Player has his tournament. Player is the official host of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, which this year becomes part of the Finals Series in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour. ... Craig Watson has been appointed captain of Great Britain and Ireland for the 2017 Walker Cup matches at Los Angeles Country Club. He takes over for Nigel Edwards, who led GB&I to a 16-9 victory last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. ... All five PGA Tour winners in 2016 already were eligible for the Masters.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Pebble Beach was the only course on the PGA Tour last year (where Shotlink is used) that no one made a putt longer than 50 feet.
FINAL WORD: "Life is difficult. Golf is even more difficult. When you mix the two, you know, it's a tough sport that we play." – James Hahn.
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