Jack Nicklaus - "At 37, I feel I'm at the peak of my career" - came out yesterday with his personalized version of commissioner Deane Beman's new plan to cut back the pro golf tour:
The Golden Bear will reduce his tour schedule beginning next year so he can bear down on the Big Four (or Five, counting the World Series of Golf).
Going through 1977 expecting to win the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship and winning none of those gems made it a very un-Nicklausian year that left Big Jack chafing, and thinking -.
"I've now been playing a fairly heavy tournament schedule every year for more than 20 years . . . With all the other family and business activities that have naturally grown during that time, this has made for an increasingly hectic lifestyle . . . and my golf has suffered as a result."
"Not being able to give my all is unfair to the fans, the sponsors and myself. The schedule I've been following hasn't allowed me to do that. Nor has it allowed me to prepare as fully for the major championships as I feel is necessary to be totally ready for them physically and mentally."
So Nicklaus, who after this week's windup will have played 21 tournaments this year and won three, in 1978 will stick to the Big Four plus a few other events "as appropriate occasions arise" . . .
FANS (Fight to Advance the Nation's Sports) officially begins operations today but the consumer-advocate organization based on Connecticut Avenue had its first licks printed up in advance. It is a salvo directed at the National Football League, an open letter to commissioner Pete Rozelle charing that the NFL is on the verge of "pricing the average fan out of the stadium" - and without justification. Peter Gruenstein, FANS executive director, contended, "It is a myth, pure and simple, that ticket prices in the NFL generally bear a strong relationship to costs, particularly player salaries."
FANS issues a list of average ticket prices for each of the 28 pro football franchises (tops, Seattle $11.79: second, Washington, $11.27: on down to Los Angeles lowest at $7.37) - and evidently gets off on the wrong foot. It was pointed out that the Rams only sell tickets priced at $12 and $10, so how could their prices average $7.37? Gruenstein said he would have his researcher double check . . .
But nobody's perfect. FanFare's roundup of some of the college football heroes from hereabouts slipped up on Virginia State's Maurice Banks - he's from Coolidge, not Cardozo . . . And didn't Stephanie Willim of Bethesda put on a gymnastics show in the junior meet from Japan even if it was shown Saturday on CBS, not ABC?
For a Cardozo standout, though, look to Baltimore where Tim Baylor, 6-foot-5 reserve defensive back, has emerged as a leader on the Colt special teams . . . High prices or not, the Colts packed in a Memorial Stadium record 60,225 for the Steeler battle Sunday - now they've got to do it again for the Redskins' Monday-night visit, or we're blacked out TV-wise in the whole Wash-Balt, sector . . .
The Touchdown Club's Salute to the Yankees has been rescheduled for Friday noon, with Paul Blair of the 1977 world champs and Alexandria's George McQueen of the 1947 champion Yankees as guests of honor. It was hoped Brooks Robinson would Blair, but we freshly learn The Third Baseman will be tied up a while. He's ventured into politics as chairman of the campaign to make Steve Sachs attorney general of Maryland. Oh, that primary election is nearly a year away, but they want to get at those grass roots early. Along the way, Robinson will be weighing career options.
Joe Wheeler, we hear, plans a Swing Out for Baseball rally at RHK Stadium about Nov. 19. Supposed to have the likes of Willie Mars, Ralph Kiner and Joe DiMaggio leading the cheers. Official announcement pending . . . He bringing sports to Starplex (stadium and D.C. Armory), fight folk are saying the projected local pro boxing tournament will have a hard time getting fighters if it's going to cost them $80 entry fees. No wonder the slogan is "support your neighborhood boxer" . . .