2003: Jack only Nicklaus to make cut

What began as a family affair ended as a one-man show as Jack Nicklaus was the only member of the Nicklaus brood to make the cut at the BMW Charity Pro-Am.

Nicklaus – playing in his first Nationwide Tour event – was joined by sons Jackie, Steve, Gary and Michael in a tournament for the first time in his career. After three waterlogged days, however, the Golden Bear was the only Nicklaus still around when the cut was made.

With Steve’s role as his dad’s amateur partner over and Nicklaus’ other three sons missing the cut, the Golden Bear’s game fell along with his spirits. Cheered by fans but regretful his children couldn’t join him inside the ropes at The Cliffs’ Valley Course, he struggled to 75 in the rain-delayed third round earlier Sunday.

“I got up this morning and said, ‘I came here to play with them and I’m the only one playing,’ ” said Nicklaus, who had rallied with a second-round 67 to make the cut.

“That wasn’t really what I had in mind. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t get started this morning. My balloon was a little deflated.”

Nicklaus, with 73 PGA Tour victories, including 18 majors, found a second wind.

Starting on the back nine for the final round, Nicklaus birdied three of his first five holes before a double bogey on the 16th and a bogey on the 18th slowed him. He closed with 70 for a 4-under 283 total, 14 shots behind champion Tripp Isenhour.

Family outings aside, Nicklaus left with more confidence than after the beating he took at Augusta National last month. Nicklaus trudged through the muddy layout for a miserable 85-77.

This time, Nicklaus displayed a revamped putting stroke that led him to 10 consecutive one-putt greens to end the second round.

“It was a better round but not competitive enough,” he said.

Gary Nicklaus shot 72-74, Michael Nicklaus shot 72-75 and Jackie Nicklaus shot 72-80. Steve Nicklaus is an amateur.

The rain, lightning and hail that delayed the tournament also canceled the pro-am portion of the event. However, Jack and Steve Nicklaus won the Pro-Celebrity division by finishing at 21 under par, two shots ahead of Kyle Thompson-George Rogers and amateur D.J. Trahan-Jennifer Mills.

44Isenhour survives long Tripp: After 37 winless months, neither three days of weather delays nor 35 grueling holes May 4 could keep Tripp Isenhour out of the winner’s circle at the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs.

Isenhour, whose last victory was the 2000 Mississippi Gulf Coast Open, opened with 64 on the Keowee Vineyards course and only the weather threatened his march to a two-stroke victory over local favorite Kyle Thompson (66).

Isenhour’s victory snaps a two-year streak of former Clemson standouts – Jonathan Byrd (2001) and Charles Warren (2002) - taking home the trophy. At least the former Georgia Tech All-American kept the title in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

44Short shots: He was, by far, the most famous former major championship winner to play a Nationwide Tour event, but Jack Nicklaus was not the first. Dave Stockton (MC, ’92 Sonoma County Open, Fresno Open), Andy North (MC, ’99 Dakota Dunes Open), Wayne Grady (T-25, ’02 Clearwater Classic), Scott Simpson (T-54, ’03 Louisiana Open) and Bob Charles (MC, ’02 Holden Clearwater Classic) preceded the Golden Bear on the secondary circuit. . . . D.J. Trahan, No. 1 in the Golfweek/Titleist Men’s Amateur Rankings and No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, missed the cut after rounds of 69-73. . . . Zach Johnson – winner of last month’s Rheem Classic – finished tied for fourth, five shots back in his bid to become the first player since Jason Gore last year to win back-to-back events. . . . Several Nationwide Tour players wore Nicklaus’ signature on their hats, including Kyle Thompson. “I was a little intimidated,’’ Thompson said of meeting Nicklaus. “But he’s the nicest guy in the world.” . . . Bryce Molder, 24, has accepted a sponsor exemption to play the Nationwide Tour’s LaSalle Bank Open in June.

– Staff and wire reports

Approachshots

Next up: Virginia Beach Open, May 15-18, TPC of Virginia Beach. 2002 champion: Cliff Kresge.

The buzz: This course is one of the longest and toughest on tour, playing to 7,432 yards and having stroke averages of 73.615, 73.435 and 73.266 in the event’s first three years.

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