For 30-plus yearsJack Nicklaus kept saying that fatherhood was his highest priority, therebyscrewing things up for the rest of us. Now we dads have to sit through thoseinterminable swim meets on beautiful summer evenings when we could be playing atwilight nine, all because Big Jack never missed any of Jackie's golftournaments or Steve's football games or Nan's volleyball matches.
Already this yearwe've had Paul Goydos winning the Sony Open as a "part-time golfer and afull-time father." What kind of message does that send? And now comes TigerWoods, saying he'll skip the British Open if his pregnant wife, Elin, looks asif she's going to deliver the First Child of Sports that week.
The expectantfather sounded firm: "That's the most important thing, not another golftournament. If she's going to have it during the week of the Open, I just don'tgo."
Would you at leastreconsider, Tiger, if you win the Masters in April and the U.S. Open in June?We're not asking you to do it for us. (Although it would liven up ourcouch-spud lives to see you go for a fifth consecutive major.) You should do itfor baby Nike. Do you want little Swooshie (suggested toddler nickname) teasedwith this old playground taunt: "You cost your father the Grand Slam, youcost your father ... "? No child likes that.
Phil Mickelsonplayed the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst on baby alert, his caddie packing abeeper. All week long Phil said the gallant, post-Jack thing: The beeper goesoff and I'm outta here, whether I'm winning, in a playoff, whatever. PayneStewart did Lefty a solid by holing that 18-footer on the last to win inregulation: When Mrs. Phil gave birth on playoff Monday, on the other side ofthe country, Phil and camera were on hand. Phil's crooked driver has cost himsome U.S. Opens, but the daughter born that day, young Amanda Mickelson, hasnot. In victory, Stewart, one of golf's last showmen, famously grabbed Phil'shead like a bowling ball and said, "You're going to be a father!" as ifthat were all the consolation necessary. Easy for him to say. He was a fatherand the U.S. Open champ.
British bookmakerswill give you odds on Tiger's missing the Open, but with his career unfoldinglike Jack's, it's a good bet he'll be clear to play. None of Jack's five kidswere born during golf's four holy weeks. Jack may have missed a few PensacolaOpens for soccer games but never a major. He played in 146 straight, a record.Tiger is at 40, and counting. There is, however, one thing Tiger must stilllearn from Jack: Never refer to the bambino-to-be as it. No matter how much itlooks like ET.
In 2006, for the first time, more golf courses closedthan opened
TIGER WOODS X INTERNET MONEY X BUILDING CRAZE / 146CLOSINGS + 119 1/2 OPENINGS = MARKET CORRECTION
by JAMES P. HERRE
The new geometric drivers will invigorate the golfindustry.
TOP POP Nicklaus, with son Jackie in 1966, mastered golf and kids.
ROBERT BECK (WOODS)
CORBIS (COMPUTER, BULLDOZER, CHART)
B. MUELLER/CORBIS (CRANES)
DAVID WALBERG (COURSE)