Nick Faldo, benefiting from a missed 8-foot putt by Jack Nicklaus, set the first-day pace Saturday in the Skins Game at La Quinta, Calif., with $70,000 in winnings.
Curtis Strange was next with $65,000, including skins on the first and last holes of the day, and Greg Norman won $30,000 with a 45-foot birdie putt. Nicklaus had a terrible day and was shut out.The format of this made-for-TV event, Strange and Norman agreed, forces players to hit shots they wouldn't normally attempt.
"You know pars won't do it. You have to make birdies, so you take some chances you usually wouldn't even think about," Strange said.
That, however, was hardly the reason Nicklaus produced some highly uncharacteristic efforts over the first nine holes Saturday in this gathering of four of the world's finest players.
The reason was found in his plaintive wail of "Jack..." after a particularly distasteful pull-hook with a 3-wood. It was Jack that did it.
And did it with something approaching consistency.
He hit three drives out of play; two into the water and another into an unplayable lie. He hit a pair of 3-wood shots far, far left, one when he set up to play to the right and double-crossed himself.
As a result, the only man who has played in all eight Skins Games, made no money for the day.
"Nobody wants to get skunked," Strange said.
"I don't think golf has been his No. 1 priority for a while," Norman said.
Nicklaus just went to the practice tee in search of something that will enable him to avoid embarassment over Sunday's final nine holes.
"I can't recall ever playing a worse nine holes of golf," he said. "I can't remember ever hitting that many bad shots. That was awful.
"I can assure you I won't play quite that bad tomorrow. I don't see how I could," he said.
Another $285,000 will be up for play Sunday. That includes $25,000 on the 9th through 11th holes, and $35,000 on the last six. If two or more players tie on a hole, the money is carried forward until there is a clear winner on a hole.
Faldo, the Masters and British Open winner and another Skins Game rookie, coaxed home a triple-breaking, 18-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole and won $15,000 when Nicklaus failed on an 8-footer that would have tied him and forced a carry-over.
Nicklaus' only birdie of the day came on the par-5 eighth, but it was matched by Norman, setting up the ninth with a $50,000 price tag, which was promptly claimed by Strange.
Bernhard Langer shot a 3-under-par 69 and Torsten Giedeon had a 72 Saturday to lift Germany to its first title in the World Cup of Golf at Orlando, Fla.
The Germans finished at 20-under-par 556, 3 shots better than second-place England and Ireland.
Richard Boxall and Mark James, seeking England's first title, led after each of the first three rounds at Grand Cypress Resort. But Boxall closed with a 73, and James had a 72.
David Feherty shot a final-round 63, the best score of the tournament, as he and Ronan Rafferty gave Ireland its best World Cup finish since 1958.
Payne Stewart of the United States won the International Trophy and $75,000 for the best individual score. He shot a final-round 66 for a 271 total, 17 under par, but partner Jodie Mudd struggled to a 77-291 as the they finished fifth in the 32-team competition.
Langer and Giedeon, a World Cup rookie, each finished at 10-under 278. Each received $120,000 of the $1.1 million purse.