When Jack Nicklaus instituted the first nine-hole skins game before the 2009 Memorial Tournament, he chose Tiger Woods as one of this group. Fans got an eyeful watching the two greatest golfers in the world play side-by-side with Woods chipping in at eighteen to seal the deal.
Last year, Nicklaus said, "They had me paired in the other group, and I said, uh-uh. I said, 'I haven't played with him for nine years. I'd like to play with Tiger.' So they said OK. I'm really looking forward to it."
This year tells quite a different story as Nicklaus has extricated himself from Woods' group instead pairing himself with Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Sean O'Hair and Kenny Perry, all perceived by the public to be stand-up guys.
Not that Steve Stricker (one of my favorite golfers besides Mickelson), Zack Johnson or Jim Furyk won't add a bit of pizazz to Woods' foursome (Rory McIlroy has possibilities as you can watch the girls swooning all around him) but what was the method to Nicklaus' decision?
Bleacher Report asks, "Couldn't Jack have played with both of them?"
A Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson pairing would have left all of the other great PGA Tour golfers struggling for television time. The only way you could get the cameras rolling on Team "B" would be if there was a hole-in-one or if one of the guys started cussing about something (microphones will be in use by the players.)
It's also good to switch up the golfers from one year to the next. Kenny Perry played in the 2009 Woods/Nicklaus group and he isn't in the Golden Bear's 2010 "fivesome".
Maybe Jack just doesn't want to hustle too much. In 2009 Nicklaus "made fun of himself for playing several of the par-4s like par-5s and suggested he needed to play from the forward tees." Tiger may be a tad too competitive for Nicklaus. Mickelson, just cut from the Colonial last week, may be more to his pace.
This feels a bit like Ryder Cup whimsy, doesn't it?
Free admission for kids tomorrow and, for those fans nowhere near Dublin, Ohio, you can catch the action on the Golf Channel from 1:00p.m. to 3:30 p.m.