Nicklaus/Watson win Champions Skins again

January 30, 2011
Staff and wire reports

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.

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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 Champions 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.

Hole-by-hole results
No. 1 Ben Crenshaw/Fuzzy Zoeller and Fred Couples/Nick Price halve with birdie-3s.
No. 2 Jack Nicklaus/Tom Watson win two skins with birdie-2, collect $60,000.
No. 3 Crenshaw/Zoeller and Bernhard Langer/Mark O'Meara halve with par-5s.
No. 4 Crenshaw/Zoeller and Nicklaus/Watson halve with par-4s.
No. 5 Crenshaw/Zoeller and Couples/Price halve with par-4s.
No. 6 Langer/O'Meara win four skins with birdie-3, collect $120,000.
No. 7 Langer/O'Meara and Couples/Price halve with birdie-3s.
No. 8 Crenshaw/Zoeller win two skins with birdie-3, collect $80,000.
No. 9 Crenshaw/Zoeller and Langer/O'Meara halve with par-3s.

No. 10 Couples/Price win two skins with birdie-4, collect $80,000.
No. 11 Nicklaus/Watson and Couples/Price halve with par-3s.
No. 12 Langer/O'Meara win two skins with birdie-3, collect $80,000.
No. 13 Watson/Nicklaus and Couples/Price halve with par-4s.
No. 14 Couples/Price and Langer/O'Meara halve with par-4s.
No. 15 Langer/OMeara and Couples/Price halve with par-5s.
No. 16 Couples/Price and Langer/O'Meara halve with par-4s.
No. 17 Nicklaus/Watson win five skins with birdie-2, collect $250,000.
No. 18 Nicklaus/Watson and Couples/Price halve with par-4s.
Playoff
17 Nicklaus/Watson, Langer/O'Meara, Crenshaw/Zoeller halve with par-3. Price/Couples eliminated with bogey.
18 Langer/O'Meara win one skin with par-4, collect $100,000.
Day 2 Notes
NO DOUBLE-DIGITS: For the first time in the last six events using the team, alternate-shot format, a winning team didn't have a double-digit skins total. Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson also won with a winning total of $310,000, the lowest in the team, alternate-shot format. Fuzzy Zoeller/Peter Jacobsen (2008) and Jack Nicklaus/Tom Watson (2007) won with $320,000, the previous lowest money total.
THE MONEY HOLE: Tom Watson's birdie putt at No. 17 was worth $250,000 to the Jack Nicklaus-Watson team, the most money earned on one hole since 2009 when Ben Crenshaw/Fuzzy Zoeller pocketed $300,000 for a birdie at the par-3 12th hole. For the second consecutive year, there was a five-hole carry-over and as was the case in 2010, Nicklaus-Watson claimed the money at a key time. In 2010, the duo had a birdie-3 at No. 5 after the first four holes had been halved.
THE TOTALS: Jack Nicklaus owns 10 Kaanapali Champions Skins Game records, including most career skins (121) and most career money ($2,760,000). His 77 skins on the front nine are more than every other competitor's total skins. Raymond Floyd is the next closest with a total of 69 skins. Nicklaus is second to Floyd (47 skins) for most back-nine skins with 46. Tom Watson now has 63 total skins in this event and earnings of $1,475,000.
WHERE ARE THE EAGLES?: A combined total of 10 birdies were made in the competition this year compared to the 19 birdies made by the four teams in last year's Kaanapali Champions Skins Game competition, but there were no eagles recorded. In the 24-year history of this event, there have only been five eagles made and Jack Nicklaus has made four of them. Tom Watson also recorded an eagle in 2004.
PLENTY TO GO AROUND: For the first time at Kaanapali, all four teams earned money in the competition. Prior to today, all four teams earned money in the 2007 event at Wailea Golf Club on Maui.
OVERTIME: This year's playoff marked the 20th time in 24 events that extra holes were needed to decide the title. The extra holes today ran the total number of playoff holes to 43 in event history.
QUOTABLE: "It's a blast for me to compete against guys 15-20 years younger." -- Jack Nicklaus

"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."