Why Tiger Will Wear a Different Crown Than The King
On the green? says a bystander.
His green, someone else says.
He hitches a little, sets up, waggles the driver, grimaces briefly as if wishing for the momentary return of that youth that still lives in his eyes, and swings. The ball sails back down the fairway on a trajectory any of us would be pleased to own. But its not good enough for him. He wants it to be like 1964. He feels like he can do it the way he did in 1964.
Oh, and by the way: He left not a mark on that green.
Arnold Palmer has made his mark in many other ways over thousands of days like this one. The occasion is a commercial shoot at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Fla., and Palmer, the star of the commercial, is also the clubs founder and owner. The impromptu drive was a time-killer between takes. Now that the film crew has reset and the next shot is ready, Palmer changes shirts (even in October the humidity here is still stifling) and heads toward the camera.
His eyes still smile as if they simply dont know any other way. Even he has been unable to dodge the inevitable heartbreak episodes of advancing age: He is a widower and a prostate cancer survivor (indeed, part of todays commercial shoot concerns Palmers efforts to increase prostate cancer awareness, thereby saving the lives of more men.)
But the smile remains in the eyes, and everyone from sound guy to camera operator to P.R. girl is drawn to his natural friendliness. No question: Whatever he feels he has lost off his drive, Arnold Palmers human appeal ' and commercial viability as an endorser ' refuses to decay.
Those of you rushing to the discussion boards or the e-mail to excoriate me for praising Palmer ' how can I say this politely? Save it. Every time I write something nice about Palmer, I hear that it is because he allegedly signs my paycheck. But while he is indeed the chairman of the board of The Golf Channel, he has no influence over my work. I cover golf business news; Palmer continues to make golf business news ' thats all the motivation I need, or have.
Besides, praise isnt really the objective here. Rather, it is to note that at 74, Palmer is 30 years past his last regular PGA Tour win, still an endorsement blockbuster, and probably the last of a breed.
Timing had a lot to do with Palmers endorsement success. If you trace the explosion of television-driven mass culture in this country back to the advent of the Beatles in 1962, then Palmers first Masters win of four, in 1958, couldnt have been scheduled any better. Palmer helped golf on television, and golf on TV helped him.
Then there was the personal touch. Legions of people have testified about how Arnold looked right at them, reached out his hand to shake their hands. He made a personal bridge every time he extended an arm over the ropes. (As a matter of fact, it was because of the crowds Palmer brought to golf tournaments that organizers even had to use ropes.)
It wasnt an accident. Palmers father Deacon instilled gentlemanliness in him from an early age, and made sure the lesson stuck. And the late Mark McCormack, realizing that no athlete can win all the time or forever, positioned Palmer as a winner at life, as McCormack liked to put it.
It worked. And because it worked, Palmers appeal has survived the onslaught of a speedy, impatient culture, including the immense popularity of other sports stars. Palmer continues, to this day, to be among the top 20 athlete-endorsers in the world, according to Forbes magazine.
The young man with the fire in his eyes, who is No. 1 on that Forbes list and who makes a habit of winning Palmers PGA Tour event at Bay Hill each March, has teed up a new era of endorsement power. But those who thrill to the golf expertise of Tiger Woods sometimes sigh that whatever his gifts, Woods will never be another Palmer. The less charitable blame Tiger for this, saying he should be warmer, more personable ' more like Arnold.
But its not Tigers fault that in being himself, he is something different from (or less than) the hero we remember Palmer to be. Its not that Tiger doesnt have the ability to build those same bridges Palmer built ' Woods has been unfailingly polite in my contacts with him, and he has a wicked, dry sense of humor that is often the hallmark of extreme intelligence. He runs a charitable foundation, and he has put a great deal of money where his mouth is in that regard. He is a good example for children.
But although Woods is the best opportunity for Palmer-like stardom since the generation that brought us Palmer, Nicklaus and Player, the world into which Tiger was born is irrevocably changed.
Was 1964 kindler and gentler? Perhaps. For certain, there were not as many concerns about security. There were less people vying for an athletes time. Sports stardom earned respect, but not deification. We had not yet coined the term stalker. The commercial machinery that had been built by Palmers time didnt yet have the privacy-destroying capability is does today.
Within the unfriendly confines of these challenges, Woods has done pretty well. His handlers know his presence, image and likeness are assets that must be protected. But the charitable goals remain. And although it might be a stretch to believe Woods fathers mid-1990s prediction that Tiger will outdo Gandhi, its perfectly reasonable to believe Woods will use his extraordinary focus and will to do some lasting good in the world.
Kind of like his annual host at Bay Hill. Between swings, Palmer brought smiles to the faces of millions, and continues to do so. And while we wont see him on the Nobel Prize list this week, we owe him a lot.
Woods may be able to accomplish the same thing. But it might be a lot to ask if we expect him to do it the same way.
McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.
McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.
''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''
Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.
''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''
McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.
''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.
''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''
The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.
Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel
If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.
Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:
When in the Middle East... pic.twitter.com/lNv1Lh79E0— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2018
If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:
Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."
Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."
I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H
And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.