While such PGA Tour stalwarts as David Duval, Stuart Appleby and Rocco Mediate drew followers as they went through Monday's U.S. Open qualifying, a former Open champion trudged along in near-anonymity.
Steve Jones might have gotten into the Columbus, Ohio, playoff, too, if not for a bout with low blood sugar midway through his second 18 holes. Two bogeys and a double bogey in a four-hole span left him with too much ground to make up.
"I felt weird," Jones said. "Right after (the double bogey), I started eating like crazy."
It's been 15 years since Jones' surprise victory at Oakland Hills — the last Open champion to win after surviving both local and sectional qualifying. Now 52, he began a comeback in January after four years of injuries, only to find the Champions Tour is just as tough to crack as the Open field.
A two-year exemption given to PGA Tour vets upon turning 50 expired after last season, casting him into no-man's land.
"I can't get in any events," Jones said. "I've lost status on both tours, even lost my medical insurance. They're kicking me out, it seems like."
Ironically, the only events he has no trouble playing are senior majors — the Tradition, Senior PGA, and U.S. Senior and Senior British Opens. How is that? He gets in as a past major winner.
Jumpin' Jack: It's no secret Jack Nicklaus was a multisport athlete through high school, bypassing a chance to join an Ohio State basketball team that included Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek.
Nicklaus continued to play rec-league basketball during his offseason until he turned 40. And he wasn't afraid to drive the lane.
"It was really kind of funny," he said. "The guys (on my team) would say, 'You take him out and you've got us to deal with.' And I've been taken out a couple of times."
Tap-ins: Tom Watson, twice a conqueror of Nicklaus in majors, has been named next year's Memorial Tournament honoree. Watson won the 1977 British Open at Turnberry, later beating Nicklaus at the 1982 U.S. Open with a chip-in on the 71st hole. … Patrick Reed, who last week helped Augusta State claim the NCAA men's title, makes his professional debut at this week's St. Jude Classic.
— Jeff Shain