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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 17, 2010

Nicklaus, Watson surge ahead in Skins Game

Advertiser Staff and News Services

It's days like these that give Jack Nicklaus the itch to return.

"I would love to go out and play again, I really would if I had the ability to do so," said Nicklaus, days away from his 70th birthday. "If I had the vehicle to do it, I would play in a heartbeat."

No one knows that better than his partner Tom Watson.

Nicklaus and Watson took the first seven skins worth $220,000 yesterday to build a big lead after nine holes in the Champions Skins Game at Royal Ka'anapali Golf Course on Maui. The Hall of Fame duo had birdies on five of the first seven holes.

Nicklaus gave credit to Watson.

"I don't know if I'm competing. I always say, we're competing," he said. "If I was out there by myself, I wouldn't be competing."

With the first four skins carrying over to the par-4 fifth, Nicklaus hit an aggressive wedge from 115 yards to 3 feet. Watson dropped the birdie putt to capture five skins and $150,000.

Two holes later, Watson drained a 10-foot downhill birdie putt for two more skins worth $70,000. Just as impressive was how he persuaded Nicklaus to switch from a 6-iron to a 5-iron on the approach.

Fred Couples, making his Champions Tour debut, and Nick Price were in second place with one skin worth $40,000. Defending champions Fuzzy Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw, who earned a record $530,000 last year, were shut out on the first day of the alternate-shot event, as were 74-year-old Gary Player and Loren Roberts.

In the media room, Watson turned reporter and asked his partner if it hurts that he's not playing competitively any more. Nicklaus' last tournament was at St. Andrews in 2005.

"It hurts all the time," Nicklaus responded.

"Not your body, but that you're not playing competitive golf," Watson said.



University of Hawai'i senior Amber Kaufman won the high jump and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championship yesterday at the University of Washington Indoor Preview meet in Seattle.

Kaufman cleared 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches to win the top flight among 19 athletes and surpass the NCAA qualifying height of 6- 3/4.

Kaufman, who placed sixth at the indoor nationals last season, was among 16 Rainbow Wahine who competed in yesterday's meet, which drew more than 1,000 athletes (men and women) from schools along the West Coast.