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Nicklaus, Watson can't find familiar Pebble Beach magic


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- A decade ago, they staged one of the most memorable shootouts in the history of the U.S. Open. But this week, Pebble Beach exacted a bit of sad revenge on Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Neither made the cut at the 92nd Open: Nicklaus, a four-time champion who last won here in 1972, missed by four shots after rounds of 77 and 74. Watson, who won his only Open title here in 1982, missed by one when he followed an opening-round 75 with a 73.

"After the round, I told Jack that we were not the same golfers that we were 10 years ago," said Watson, 42. "Walking up the 18th fairway, I realized this is probably the last time we'll see Jack and maybe me in the U.S. Open here. So I said, 'Let's finish with a bang and make birdie here.' "

Watson made par, but Nicklaus closed out with a double-bogey. With his 10-year Open exemption having run out, Watson will have to finish in the top 30 on this year's money list or win either of the year's last two majors in order to qualify for next year's Open at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J.

Nicklaus will have to win the Senior Open, as he did last year, to qualify for next year's Open, or get a special exemption from the USGA, as he did last year at Hazeltine. Considering that his last Open title came at Baltusrol in 1980, Nicklaus will probably be in next year's field.

"I'm very disappointed," said Nicklaus, 52. "I haven't played particularly well all year."

* Nick Faldo, who was considered one of the favorites coming into the week, made the cut at 2-over 146 following a round of 4-over 76. But the former two-time British Open champion caused a bit of excitement when he climbed into a tree in an attempt to get his ball.

After his approach at the par-5 14th got stuck in a tree over a greenside bunker, Faldo found out that he would be penalized one stroke for an unplayable lie as opposed to two for a lost ball. Up he went. Up, up, up.

"I've never done that before," said Faldo, who climbed some 20 feet up and shook the tree a number of times. "The last time [I climbed] was when I was in short trousers."

Faldo's search was unsucessful. He ended up being penalized two shots and finished with a triple-bogey 8 on the hole.

* Anders Forsbrand served as a commentator on a Swedish telecast of this year's Masters. He plans to be on the feed back to his homeland this week for the U.S. Open, playing rather than talking.

Forsbrand, 31, has made his Open debut a successful one, backing up an opening-round of 1-under 71 with a 2-under-par 70 yesterday. It shouldn't come as any surprise to those who've followed Forsbrand's rise to the top of the ranks in Europe.

"I've heard a lot of things about it [the Open], and I've read a lot of things about it," said Forsbrand, the first Swedish player in a men's U.S. Open. "I think it's very fair. If you hit good shots, you get good results."

Forsbrand, who is currently second in the European Order of Merit, has hit enough good shots to get in contention at Pebble Beach. If he could pull off a come-from-behind win, he would become the second Swede to win a U.S. Open. Liselotte Neumann won the Women's Open at Baltimore Country Club in 1988.

* After missing the cut at his last three Opens, PGA Tour regular Fred Funk of Laurel, Md., made the cut yesterday with a total of 3-over 147. Funk shot a 75. So did Donnie Hammond, formerly of Frederick, Md., who shot a second straight 73. Webb Heintzelman of Cabin John, Md., missed the cut with a 76157.

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