Jack On Lexi, Scorecard's Signed And A USGA Apology

Pretty gripping stuff yesterday from Jack Nicklaus at a 5 pm Masters pres conference.

First on ball marking...

Q.  In a discussion earlier today with Phil Mickelson about what happened with Lexi Thompson, he suggested that on the TOUR, players are becoming very lax about marking their ball, and maybe the difference between two and three inches on the marks.  Did you ever have problems with that when you were playing?  And secondly, when you saw a rules violation when you were playing, did you bring it to the attention of the player or would you keep mum about it?

    JACK NICKLAUS:  First of all, I was very careful how I marked the ball.  I did not ‑‑ we govern ourselves.  We call rules on ourselves.  The integrity of the game is that you do things the right way.  So I don't think I ever in my career ever marked a ball incorrectly, okay.

    Second, on three occasions on the TOUR, guys were cheating.  And I looked at my playing partner, and he came to me and we talked about it and we said, if it happens again, what do you think.  So on three occasions, it happened again.  Three occasions we took it quietly to the tournament director of the tournament and got out of it.  Nothing was ever said publicly about it.

    Do I like that ‑‑ and I think it's our obligation as a player, if there is a rules violation that's blatant ‑‑ I mean, it could be accidental.  But if it's blatant, then I think it's not fair to the rest of the field not to bring it up.  But you bring it up quietly and try not to embarrass somebody and do it in a class manner that would maybe ‑‑ we had one in The Presidents Cup last time, I think it was last time.  Anyway, and we said, what do we do about it.  And I don't know why I got involved in it.  I wasn't in the tournament but I was there.

    They just got the captains together and had a little conversation with the young man and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.  I think you can handle it properly, to his advantage.

    What happened with Lexi, how in the world she did what she did, I don't have any idea.  She had a 12‑inch putt.  She certainly wasn't getting any advantage from it.  And I think she just made a mistake.

    I don't think she did it on purpose.  I don't think she did anything malicious about anything or trying to cheat.  It just happened.  She did it and did it wrong, and it was obvious that she marked it back probably an inch and a half away from where it was.

    So I mean, I don't know her well, but I know her.  I played with her.  Nice gal.  I don't think that's the way she was brought up or the way she would play.  And so I think it just happened to be a mistake.

And then there was this, which was the primary Big Oak topic of the day: the scar on golf caused by scorecard signing, phone-in rulings and the issues created by an outdated system.

    Now, my opinion on that kind of stuff is that once the round is over, and the scorecard is signed, the day is over.  That's my opinion.  I mean, that isn't necessarily what it is.  But that's what I think.

The Golden Bear has spoken.

Then there was this on Oakmont and Dustin Johnson's situation last year.

 I mean, I think what happened with Dustin last year at the U.S. Open, and to tell him on the 12th hole after waiting six holes to tell him; and then waiting, we're going to discuss it at the end of the round, you can't do that.

    I mean, if you're going to penalize somebody, penalize them.  At least let them know and that's when they have the ability to be able to correct it, or try to do the best they can.

    I mean, I had a big argument with Mike Davis about that at The Open.  I says, You can't do that to the guy.

    Says, Oh, we did it throughout.

    I said, Mike, I don't think so.  That was not the right way to do it.  You need to really ‑‑ you've got to tell the kid right away and he's got to know where he stands.

    Mike said, No, I think you're wrong.

    Well, okay.  Taking it back ‑‑ I went to Ireland and next day I'm coming back on an air plane from Ireland and Mike Davis found me over the Atlantic (laughter).  And he says, Jack, I want to apologize.  I think you were right.

    And I thought that was very nice that he did that.  I think the USGA, you don't often hear them say they think they were wrong (laughter).

    And that's not against the USGA or anything.  They are the ruling body in the game and try to do their best and try to do the best of their ability.  For them to make a mistake and think that they were wrong and correct it ‑‑ they had a couple last year that were not real good.

    But I think everybody in the game of golf tries to do it the right way, the best way.  I think there are very, very few people who take advantage of the rules in the game and if somebody does take advantage of the rules of the game, move on and make a lesson of it and I think that's the way we should handle it.