BETHESDA -- For a couple of hours yesterday, it was vintage Jack Nicklaus.
A hole-in-one and five birdies in the last 13 holes jumped him from back in the pack to second place in the U.S. Senior Open at Congressional Country Club. This was after bogeys at the first two holes had seemed to relegate him to a down-the-line finish.
That is not, however, how Jack Nicklaus goes about his business -- and has gone about it for his entire golfing career.
"After that start, I said I'm not going to get anywhere near what I want to do unless I start doing something right."
There was a two-putt birdie at the sixth; at the 163-yard uphill seventh, his 6-iron shot bounced and rolled into the cup; and at the eighth, he hit a 9-iron shot to 10 feet and made the putt.
He hit it close at 13 for a birdie, then had it in the 15-20-foot range at the next three holes and didn't make anything.
Meanwhile Isao Aoki was putting pressure on his playing companion, eventual winner Tom Weiskopf, forcing him to play his best. Nicklaus had thought a 67 might get him into a playoff and a 66 might win it, unless Weiskopf, the third-round leader by a stroke, played really well.
The last two holes featured the usual Nicklaus heroics, as he hit a shot from the right rough to five feet at No. 17, and, just wanting to get a 40-footer close at the home hole, watched the ball fall into the cup.
It got him to nine-under par, but as he said, "A day late and a dollar short." And, obviously, good, but not good enough this day.
The hole-in-one was the 18th of Nicklaus' career, breaking a tie with Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. "The three of us played together at The Tradition and Gary made one at the seventh hole."
This was the second ace in a major championship for Nicklaus, as he had one in the British Open at Royal Lytham in 1988.
Ringer achieves goal
About an hour before his final-round tee-time, Larry Ringer was told the top 25 and ties are exempt for next year's championship. "That was my goal. My mind-set was to shoot 68-69-70."
He didn't get it that low, but considering all he had been through the previous three days, his 74 was perfectly respectable. It gave him a 72-hole total of 291, a tie for 21st, and an exemption for next year at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland, Ohio.
Of the ovation he received from the crowd walking down the 18th fairway, he said, "I felt like Arnold Palmer. I don't know how he feels in that situation, but if this was close, I love it."
For all the success Ringer has had in the last six weeks -- top 12 finishes, including a second, in three Senior starts -- he'll get a reality check today.
"I'll be in the shop, and the club has a nine-hole mixed event on Tuesday," he said, reverting to his role as head professional at the Country Club at Woodmore.
When Bruce Summerhays (a closing 76294 and a tie for 29th) was the golf coach at Stanford in the late 1970s, one of his team members was Jack Skilling, an assistant professional at Columbia CC, and one of the top Middle Atlantic PGA players. . . . Ringer finished as the putting leader (23-32-21-28) by eight strokes. Conversely, he was tied for last in fairways hit (29 of 56) and was last in reaching greens in regulation (33 of 72). . . . Bob Housen, who played in the recent Chesapeake Cup at Caves Valley Golf Club, finished as low amateur, 77296.