Nicklaus, Palmer, Player win Greats of Golf

The Houston Greats of Golf Challenge participants: (back row, from left) Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, David Graham and Dave Stockton. (bottom row, from left) Don January, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber.

The Houston Greats of Golf Challenge participants: (back row, from left) Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, David Graham and Dave Stockton. (bottom row, from left) Don January, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber.

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player showed no mercy in winning the Houston Greats of Golf Challenge by two shots after Saturday’s second round of the Insperity Championship at The Woodlands Country Club, Tournament Course.

Lee Trevino, Dave Stockton, Gene Littler, Miller Barber, David Graham and Don January joined the big three of Nicklaus, Palmer and Player in three threesomes in an 18-hole format on a hot and humid day in Houston.

With only Player and Trevino admitting to playing very much, these legends nonetheless proved that each player still has game, even if it has been helped tremendously by technology.

“I hit it farther in the air than I did when I was 30,” Trevino said, as he was urging players to hit his new driver with the 55-gram shaft. “The shaft is the engine. You've got to get the right shaft.”

Even though the legends are a few years past their heydays, their mannerisms and swings were on display and brought back some good memories.

Trevino has a distinctive swing, setting up open and usually cutting the ball. But as the round progressed, the Merry Mex would start make comments about his swing, how he was going to draw it instead or try to cut it off a mound or bunker to a particular place on the green. It was classic Trevino and showed why he might have been the Bubba Watson of his era, sans the length.

Palmer had his typical swashbuckling move on display, going after the ball like it was his last swing ever.

Player showed that at 76, he still has tremendous game, driving the ball long and on a string, yet never riding in a cart, instead walking all 18 holes.

Nicklaus, who had played only nine holes in preparation for the challenge, liked what he saw on the driving range and brought it to the course with his patented head cock and classic follow through.

The Golden Bear brought something new to the challenge: an unyielding sense of humor. The entire day, Nicklaus ribbed Palmer and Player about their games.

“Not a bad chip. Once you learn how to hit it straight, you’ll be OK,” Nicklaus said to Player early in the round.

One time, as Palmer was ready to tap in a 1-footer, Nicklaus reminded him that he had to wait until the others putted, but then threw a little jab, asking The King if he was sure that he could make it.

Palmer would get the last laugh when he drained a 20-footer to birdie the difficult 18th and take home the crystal.

“We didn’t want to go home finishing second,” Palmer said.

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