Nicklaus, Watson defend Skins Game title
KAANAPALI, Hawaii – Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson successfully defended their Champions Skins Game title Sunday, finishing with seven skins and $310,000 to edge Mark O’Meara and Bernhard Langer by $10,000.
Nicklaus and Watson took five skins and $250,000 on the par-3 17th. The 71-year-old Nicklaus hit a 6-iron from 136 yards to 12 feet and Watson made the birdie putt in the alternate-shot event they also won in 2007.
“Skins game is a funny game,” said Nicklaus, an 18-time major winner and five-time champion in senior skins “After birdieing the second hole yesterday, we were hanging in there. We really didn’t do much. Today we were just sort of hanging around, not competing. All of sudden, 17, boom! That’s what the game is. I’m glad I picked the right hole to make the right shot and I’m glad Tom picked the right hole to make the right putt.”
O’Meara and Langer had seven skins. Langer made a 7-footer for birdie on the 11th hole worth $80,000 and O’Meara tapped in for par on the second playoff hole for the final $100,000.
Fred Couples and Nick Price claimed $80,000, matching Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller.
With a sudden stiff wind swirling in his face, Nicklaus got a break when he teed off last on 17.
“I saw the guys try to hit 7-irons and they were hitting the ball, they were spinning it and they were going all over the place,” he said. “So I said, ‘I’m going to take my 6-iron, choke it down a couple inches and just pick it, and try to make sure I didn’t put any spin on the ball. Which is what I did. It turned out to be a pretty darn good shot.
“Sometimes you have to go back and look in your memory bank and see if you can find something.”
A day earlier, Nicklaus’ 5-iron from 185 yards that landed within 3 feet on the second hole, leaving Watson a tap-in birdie for their only skins of the afternoon.
“We were just dodging bullets out there. We were dodging bullet after bullet after bullet. We weren’t helping ourselves very much,” Watson said. “When Jack hit that shot at 17, I knew it was time to convert.”