U.S. Open: Wednesday

Today's weather started out a tad differently than Tuesday in San Francisco.

Fog rolled in over the Olympic Club, making it difficult to see on the drive along the Pacific Coast. I think the locals call it a marine layer.

That gave way to bright sunshine and another postcard-type day.

The real highlight for me, though, was the surprise appearance of Jack Nicklaus in the media center. Golf's all-time greatest player was on hand as the USGA announced two special designations in his honor: the gold medal annually given to the U.S. Open winner will now be called the Nicklaus Medal and will feature a silhouette of Nicklaus, and a new addition to the USGA museum in New Jersey will be devoted to Nicklaus's career in national events.

Nicklaus won four U.S. Opens, which ties him for the record in that tournament. With 44 consecutive appearances, the Golden Bear established marks that will be tough to break.

It was a nice gesture on the part of the USGA, which seems to be doing a better job of honoring the game's legends of late.

Nicklaus, who is not much on ceremony, seemed to be genuinely pleased with the honors.

After the news conference, Nicklaus stuck around to answer questions from the media. He was still raving about the shot Tiger Woods hit two weeks ago to win his own event, the Memorial, and he also was asked if Woods could break his record for most majors at 18. Nicklaus again answered that he thought Woods could do it and would likely have more chances than people realize.

Woods is 36, and Nicklaus won his final major at 46. If his health holds up, Woods would presumably have more than 40 majors to acquire the five major wins he needs to break Jack's record.

And that brings me to this: Look out for Woods this week. He is playing for history, and he has an uncanny ability to pull off special achievements at special times.

Exhibit A: Woods won his 73rd PGA Tour event, tying Nicklaus for second on the all-time list, at Jack's own tournament.

Exhibit B: When Nicklaus played in each of the four majors for the final time, Woods won the tournament. The 2000 U.S. Open, 2000 PGA, 2005 Masters and 2005 British Open all were farewells for Jack and celebrations for Tiger.

Who do you think would be the most fitting golfer to win the first Nicklaus Medal at the U.S. Open?

The answer is Tiger Woods.

 

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