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mber Deane putting a pencil down behind the grip and making a pistol grip, he said. He broke the pencil off. We wound the leat

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NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguezs tempestuous relationship with New York Yankees fans comes to an end Friday when he plays his last game in pinstripes and he is making his exit without much of the adulation lavished on some hometown stars.Despite 351 home runs for the Bombers, and just four short of 700 for a career, his big-money contracts and off-field antics made him a less-than-beloved character for some, even before his suspension for drug use.I cant say I feel bad for him, said John Wilmore of Huntington Station, New York. Hes made millions and millions of dollars, Hes going to be very rich for the rest of his life, but theres something compelling there. You know, why did you mess up so much? Why did you do the things you did? You probably didnt need to do it to be great.A 14-time All-Star, A-Rod trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the career home run list, and his tenure with the Yankees was as substantial and productive as some of the teams most beloved players. He led the team to a World Series championship. He batted in more runs as a Yankee than Jorge Posada, Paul ONeill, Tino Martinez or Roger Maris, all of whom have plaques in Yankee Stadiums Monument Park.But this superstar will equally be remembered by New Yorkers for his denials-admissions-denials and a season-long suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, as well as frequent appearances in the tabloids involving late-night poker games, his divorce, and reputed interludes with Madonna, movie stars and a stripper.He did this to himself, said New York City firefighter Jonathan Bush. 100 percent. He could have probably avoided this if he played the right way, or even semi-the right way; everybody knows athletes do certain things. It is what it is.Steve Rosenstock of Springfield, New Jersey, said Yankees fans always viewed A-Rod as the opposite of beloved shortstop Derek Jeter, who was treated to a season-long victory tour when he retired after the 2014 season.Most people see right through him. Hes fake, disingenuous, Rosenstock said. When A-Rods talking, you cant trust anything he says. Hes a `me guy, but he pretends to be otherwise.David Chauvin, vice president and partner in the Zimmerman/Edelson public relations agency in Great Neck, New York, said it appears Rodriguez made genuine attempts since he returned from his suspension last year to make amends with fans, but said he never completely connected with them.People as a whole want to forgive, theyre willing to forgive, but they have to have an appreciation theres true contrition, he said. I dont think people ultimately have gotten that from A-Rod.He said A-Rods highly publicized big money contracts never sat well with fans, even in an era where many stars sign multi-million-dollar deals.New Yorkers have always had a blue-collar sensibility about their stars, he said. Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, even back to Lou Gehrig, they all had an affinity from the working class, blue collar New Yorkers. A-Rod comes in and starts hanging around with Madonna. He was never able to make that connection.Rodriguez is still admired in Manhattans Washington Heights neighborhood, where he was born.The walls of the El Nuevo Carnidad Restaurant are decorated with photos of Rodriguez from the two times he visited to provide food for kids in the neighborhood.The restaurants manager, Johnny Crus, said Rodriguez should have been permitted to finish out the season, rather than being released by the Yankees this week.It was disrespectful, he said. The PEDs dont change his impact. He is a grand athlete independent of the mistakes he made. People expected more of him because of how much he got paid.Owner Miguel Montas said a player like Rodriguez comes around every 100 years.He is one of the best players and that creates controversy because he is so focused on the game that he falls short in the social relations. In the game of baseball he has never been a loser, he was always a winner.Wilson Tavaras of the Dominican Republic was wearing a No. 13 jersey while waiting in line at a Yankee Stadium concession stand Sunday after it was announced that Friday would be Rodriguezs last game.What can I say about him? he said. Hes done a lot for us. But its time for him to go.---Eltman reported from Garden City, New York. AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report.Follow Eltman on Twitter at (at)feltman41 Nike Roshe Discount . Ouellette, from Montreal, already has three Olympic gold medals since joining the team in 1999. Nike Roshe China Wholesale .com) - Following a late-game loss to the reigning NBA champs, the Toronto Raptors will look to sustain their recent high-level play as they travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers. http://www.cheapnikeroshe.net/ . Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored shootout goals, and backup goalie Cam Talbot earned his second win in two nights as the Rangers shook off a late tying tally and beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 Monday night. Nike Roshe Sale Cheap . While hell be dialed in to that tournament on a course he loves, you can forgive him if his eyes glance down the calendar just a bit, towards April. Nike Roshe Wholesale . Aduriz headed home Markel Susaetas cross in the sixth minute to open the scoring at San Mames Stadium. He bettered that with a long-range blast that went in off the goal frame in the 18th, and converted a penalty in the 72nd after Diego Mainz was sent off for fouling Aduriz with only the goalkeeper to beat. The giants of golf need stages big enough to accommodate the outsize deeds that define them.For Jack Nicklaus, those stages were Augusta National, where he won six Masters titles; the Old Course at St. Andrews, where he won two British Opens; and a less-heralded course about 20 miles west of lower Manhattan.Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield Township, New Jersey, has its own history. Its two courses were designed by A.W. Tillinghast just two years after Tillinghast was present at the 1916 founding of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA).Bobby Jones played on Tillinghasts course in Springfield. So did Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer and, later, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.The present greats of the game -- including Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth -- are scheduled to appear at Baltusrol for the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday. They will try to make their own golf history on a course where its still possible to hear echoes of past legends.Jones.Hogan.Palmer.But mostly Nicklaus, whose legend was established and reinforced on the Lower Course at Baltusrol.Is it the toughest of the golf courses? Probably not, Nicklaus told ESPN.com recently. Is the quality of golf as good? Its a matter of debate, but I think its very good. They are all different. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Since Ive won multiple victories at Augusta National, St. Andrews and Baltusrol, all three of them are fantastic golf courses to me.Nicklaus won two U.S. Open championships at Baltusrol, one as an in-his-prime 27-year-old in 1967 and one as a fading 40-year-old in 1980. Each of those titles served as significant mileposts on Nicklaus journey from Ohio to golfs Mount Rushmore.White Fang and a 1-ironIn 1967, Nicklaus was viewed by many golf fans as an unwelcome challenger to Palmers unquestioned eminence. The two had dueled on courses all around the world, all through the 1960s. In the U.S. Open at Baltusrol, Nicklaus put the matter to rest. And he did so in historic, unforgettable fashion.Nicklaus earned that championship, his seventh career major, by playing four rounds of consistently brilliant golf. His secret weapon was a putter that hed possessed for only a few days. It had belonged to a man named Fred Mueller, who was friends with touring pro (and future PGA Tour commissioner) Deane Beman.Nicklaus wasnt happy with his putting during a practice round. Beman suggested trying White Fang, an old Bulls Eye putter that Mueller had painted white. Nicklaus figured it was worth a shot. He tried a few putts with it and liked it, but decided he wanted to improve the grip. Nicklaus talked about that putter and the 1967 U.S. Open during an interview conducted by the PGA last year.I remember Deane putting a pencil down behind the grip and making a pistol grip, he said. He broke the pencil off. We wound the leather around the shaft, and that was my putter grip.Using the putter, Nicklaus played well enough to win the U.S. Open. But it was another club, a 1-iron, that elevated Nicklaus performance to the realm of legendary.Nicklaus and Palmer were paired together for the final round. The pair, along with defending champion Billy Casper, entered Sunday tied for second, one shot behind then-amateur Marty Fleckman. By the time Nicklaus and Palmer approached the 18th hole, the tournament belonged to Nicklaus. He had a three-shot lead on Palmer. More than that, though, he had a chance to break Hogans record for best score in a U.S. Open.To break the record, Nicklaus needed a birdie on the final hole. That wasnt looking too promising when he hit his tee shot into some rough. The ball landed in a rut that had been left behind by a golf cart.I had to chop it out of there, Nicklaus said. Didnt chop it very far -- left myself with 237 yaards or something like that into the green, uphill, into the wind, with an approaching thunderstorm.ddddddddddddNicklaus decided to use his 1-iron, figuring it was his best shot to get the ball onto the green and give himself a chance to break Hogans record.So I hit it and I just nailed it, Nicklaus said. I pushed it just a touch, hit it right over the bunker and onto the green. I made about a 22-foot putt to break Hogans record. And I won by four over Arnold.That was a great tournament for me. I played well. It was a love affair with Baltusrol.Jack is backIt was a love affair that wasnt really reciprocated until 1980. By the time he got to that years U.S. Open at Baltusrol, Nicklaus hadnt won a tournament in almost two years. He had failed to make the cut the week before.In 1980, I worked harder than ever to get my game back, and I was rewarded for it, Nicklaus told ESPN.com. Obviously, I played very well in 1967. I broke Hogans record and beat Arnold coming down the stretch. Both were very good, but 1980 was my fourth [win at the] U.S. Open, and I think it was pretty special.Nicklaus played brilliantly in 1980. He shot a 63 on the first day. So did Tom Weiskopf, but Weiskopf shot 75 or higher on each of the next three days. Nicklaus remained locked in. Going into the final day, he was tied with Isao Aoki.Nicklaus shot a 68, beating Aoki by two strokes. His total of 272 for the tournament was a U.S. Open record that has since been matched but not surpassed. Nicklaus fourth U.S. Open title tied him with Hogan, Jones and Willie Anderson for most at the event.This time around, the crowd showed Nicklaus the appreciation he hadnt experienced back in 1967. Then, Arnies Army held up signs telling Fat Jack to hit the ball into the rough. Palmer got roars of approval, while Nicklaus, the usurper, got only polite applause.But 1980 was different. As Nicklaus walked up the final fairway, he heard chants from the gallery: Jack is back, Jack is back.Stuart Wolffe, now Baltusrols official historian, was in the crowd as a teenage fan in 1980. He remembers chanting and then seeing the scoreboard light up with the words: Jack is back.Nicklaus won two more major championships after the 1980 U.S. Open, completing his record 18 career majors.Do I think it could have been more? Yes, he said. But could it probably have been less? Yes. When you have 19 seconds and nine third-place finishes -- with that many times sitting at the gate and the chance to win -- you look back and say, Gee, I had quite a few more I could have won, but I didnt.Im proud of my record. I think most records will get broken at one time or another, and I dont imagine this will be any different.Nicklaus still had some great golf left in him in 1980, but an awful lot of great golf was behind him, and it had become intertwined with so much of the games history. When Nicklaus broke Hogans record in 1967, Hogan was still playing. He was at Baltusrol for that tournament and finished tied for 34th.It took a U.S. Open record for Nicklaus to outduel Palmer in 1967 and another record to top Aoki in 1980. A quarter-century later, during the 2005 PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson had a chance to put the tournament away on Baltusrols 18th hole. Before his second shot, Mickelson reached out with his 4-wood and tapped a plaque that commemorates the spot of Nicklaus famous 1-iron in 1967.Mickelson won, and the long line of Baltusrol history -- of golf history -- remained unbroken.From my perspective and on my list, sure, Baltusrol is on a level with Augusta National and St. Andrews, Nicklaus said.A giant needs a worthy stage, and for Nicklaus, Baltusrol was just that. ' ' '

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