Originally created 07/10/98

Nicklaus shoots 67 to steal the show



DEARBORN, Mich. -- Jack Nicklaus was more than just a sentimental favorite.

Nicklaus, whose streak of 154 majors will end when he skips the British Open next week, shot a 5-under-par 67 in the first round of the Senior Players Championship on Thursday and was just one stroke off the lead.

The leaders were Hale Irwin and John Jacobs with 66s at the TPC of Michigan, a course Nicklaus designed. Nicklaus, who birdied the final two holes, was tied with Bob Murphy and Terry Dill.

"I walked around and I didn't hurt a step," said Nicklaus, who is considering surgery for his arthritic left hip. "Can I take back what I said yesterday (about breaking the streak)?"

Nicklaus got off to a shaky start with two bogeys in the first eight holes and was just 1-under at the turn. But he was once again the Golden Bear as he charged around the back nine.

Putting with a confidence of old, the 58-year-old winner of 18 majors and two U.S. Amateur titles stroked in a 12-foot putt for birdie at No. 11 and a 10-footer at the 12th to go 3-under.

It stayed that way until the par-5 17th where he carried a 2-iron over a long pond to the edge of the green, 60 feet from the hole. Nicklaus got down in two for birdie and followed with a tricky 12-footer for birdie on the finishing hole.

"I always love to have a round where I can complain and still shoot 5-under," Nicklaus said with a contented smile. "That means I missed a few putts, but obviously I had to make something.

"What I like is I gave myself a lot of chances by playing some good golf."

QUAD CITIES: Curt Byrum sank a 20-foot putt on his final hole Thursday for a 7-under-par 63 and a one-stroke lead over four players in the first round of the Quad City Classic in Coal Valley, Ill.

Byrum, a Nike Tour regular who got into this PGA Tour event with a sponsor's exemption, rode a hot putter to overcome two early bogeys.

Playing the back nine first, he had bogeys after driving into the trees on No. 14 and into the rough on 18. But he birdied his last four holes.

"I really didn't let the bogeys bother me, and I'm sure that helped me get things going down the road," he said.

Dave Stockton Jr., Hal Sutton, Steve Jones and D.A. Weibring each shot 64s over the 6,696-yard Oakwood Country Club course. Casey Martin, who won a lawsuit for the right to ride a cart in PGA tournaments, shot a 66, and John Daly shot a 3-under-par 67.

Byrum called the first-round lead a relief after struggling to overcome elbow surgery in 1996 and torn rib muscles in 1997.

"You get to wondering. Obviously, these last couple years, with the injuries and all," he said, his voice trailing off with a shrug. "It's a surprise."

LPGA: Vickie Odegard lipped out a 6-foot birdie putt on the final green Thursday, costing her a course record and the outright lead in the opening round of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

Odegard's tap-in par left her with a 7-under-par 64 and a tie for the top spot with Dana Dormann, who had earlier matched the competitive record at Highland Meadows Golf Club.

The 64s matched the low score on a par-71 course this year. Neither of the co-leaders had a bogey.

Se Ri Pak shot an even-par 71 just three days after winning the U.S. Open in a playoff.

Defending tournament champion Kelly Robbins, who set records with an eight-stroke victory margin and a 19-under score, picked up where she left off with a 69. But 30 players had lower scores.

A week ago, only 10 of 150 players broke par in the first round of the U.S. Open at Blackwolf Run Golf Course. But 62 were under par in the Farr, including the lone amateur in the field, Grace Park. Eighty players were at par or better.

LOCH LOMOND: Scotland's Ross Drummond fired a 5-under-par 66 Thursday and took the second-round lead in the $1.4 million Loch Lomond tournament in Glasgow, Scotland -- an event he was fortunate to be playing.

The 41-year-old Scot gained a one-stroke lead over Lee Westwood and Australia's Stephen Allan with a 25-foot putt on the final hole for a 137 total.

Drummond, who has lost his tour card, was a late replacement when Davis Love III withdrew.

"I couldn't even have told you what I'd scored when I finished," Drummond said. "I just focused on what I was doing. I saw with a few holes to play I was one behind Lee, but I can't say I was trying to get to 5-under. I was just trying to play solidly."

His outcome in the tournament will determine his fate as a professional, for the next year, at least.

"It would be nice if I could get my card back here, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself," he said. "Whatever happens happens -- I'm just glad to be playing."