Kapalua shows it’s getting harder to win on tour

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MR. CLUTCH: Jack Nicklaus is regarded as golf’s most clutch putter during his generation. That apparently included playing against his sons.

Jack Nicklaus II was asked recently if he could recall the first time he beat his father.

“I had a putt to beat him or Dad had a putt to miss or whatever, he seemed to always make it, and I seemed to always miss,” Jackie Nicklaus said. “Honestly, I don’t know if I recall the first time I beat him. It doesn’t happen very often. It still doesn’t happen very often.”

Nicklaus said all four of his sons have beaten him in casual games. But he never let them win.

“If I had a 30-foot putt to keep one of them from beating me, I probably made it,” Nicklaus said. “And the reason for that is that I’ve always felt like I don’t want to ever give them anything. If they’re going to beat me, they’ve got to beat me, and I think when you do that, then they feel like they’ve really earned it.”

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DIVOTS: More than just PGA Tour winners are at Kapalua this week. In the days before tournament week starts, the Plantation Course featured Rory Sabbatini, Scott Piercy and Scott Verplank, all of whom are on Maui for vacation. Verplank is taking an exemption for career money and will make his first start next week in the Sony Open. He said he last played Waialae in 1987. … Ryo Ishikawa, who earned his PGA Tour card back through the Web.com Tour Finals, moved to the top of the priority ranking in the first reshuffle on the strength of a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. … The 30-man field at Kapalua includes 13 first-time winners.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods is the only player to win the Tournament of Champions and a major in the same year since it moved to Kapalua in 1999.

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FINAL WORD: “It’s hard to predict golf. It was pretty easy to predict Tiger there for a while.” _ Johnny Miller.

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