Another Emotional Goodbye for Arnie and His Army

By Associated PressMay 27, 2005, 4:00 pm
LIGONIER, Pa. -- Arnold Palmer is getting good at saying goodbye, perhaps because he's doing it so often. There was the heartfelt going-away party at the 1994 U.S. Open, when the adoring crowd's continuous roar echoed through a river valley in his native western Pennsylvania. Then came last year's teary-eyed goodbye during his 50th and last Masters - the tournament that made him the King and, in turn, he personally raised in stature and prestige.
But Friday's farewell in the Senior PGA Championship was as tough as any, because this time the faces in the crowd were friends, family and neighbors, business associates and buddies, people he's known all of his 75 years.
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer acknowledges the crowd as he walks up the 18th fairway during the second round of the Senior PGA Championship.
This was different. This was home. This was tough. This was the last time he would play before the most intimate members of Arnie's Army in tournament play, with the strokes being counted and the scores being posted and the results known to all.
'I've lived here all my life,' he said. 'And if you don't know how long that is, I'm not going to tell you.'
His game barely reminiscent of that which made him a seven-time winner of majors between 1958-64 and one of the world's most recognizable figures, Palmer really didn't want to play this week. But he knew skipping it, on the very Laurel Valley Golf Club course where the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup were played largely because of his influence, would disappoint so many.
'It's another of those emotional situations for me,' Palmer said. 'I'm not sure that I would even be playing if it weren't for the fact this tournament is here. I'm quite aware my golf is not up to speed. So that reason alone is enough for me to not have played.'
His 14-over 86 Friday was memorable only for a long birdie putt he dropped on No. 17, and an even longer one he just missed on No. 18. He managed just two pars on a back nine that included a triple-bogey 8 on the monstrous, 605-yard No. 11 - as if anybody cared, except that it meant he missed the cut.
His career is filled with so many championships, so many superior rounds, so many memories even he doesn't know where to start to describe it - though that victory 59 years ago in the West Penn Amateur is a good place to start.
'He defined major golf as it's played today,' an admiring Peter Jacobsen said.
But even after Palmer and his countless million 'Arnie's Army' recruits transformed golf into a common man's game, one not just for country-club elitists but also for bus drivers and machinists, he never left home.
Sure, he spends considerable time each year in Florida, close to his own Bay Hill Invitational, but he'll tell you the Pittsburgh area is home. He's even building a new house overlooking Latrobe Country Club, the course where father Deacon was the superintendent and Arnie learned to play the game.
And because he never left home, his hometown never left him, even during the 14 years since his last top-10 finish. That was evident Friday as wave after wave of spectators, many of them previously scattered over the course, converged at No. 18 to watch him finish.
He repeatedly doffed his off-white Laurel Valley cap to acknowledge the cheers, to give a knowing wink or a nod to a familiar face. And, in Latrobe and Ligonier and Greensburg and the assorted nearby villages and boroughs, it's difficult to find anyone who doesn't think he or she knows the King.
'The local people have, oh, all my life been extremely supportive of me and my golf,' he said. 'I felt like I had to at least show up ... and show them the respect they deserved.'
And that birdie, one of only two in his two rounds? It gave him another reason to play again in another tournament, on another day, even if it's not where the home folks can show up to watch.
'That gives me a license to play another round some time,' he said.
Obviously, that one final, conclusive goodbye - his retirement - is still yet to come.
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

    Masters victory

    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

    Departure from TaylorMade

    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

    Victory at Valderrama

    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.