Arnies Army Gather One More Time

By Associated PressApril 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The golf was merely an excuse to celebrate the man.
 
Arnold Palmer began what will be his final go-round at the Masters on Thursday with his army mustered behind him once more. They lined every fairway, tee to green. Grizzled veterans who joined decades ago stood shoulder-to-shoulder with new recruits eager for what might be their only glimpse of the King.
 
'I started coming here when I was 3 with my dad. He always told me, `Root for Arnold Palmer. You follow Arnold Palmer,'' said Blanton Phillips, who this year brought his own 3-year-old, Sam.
 
'I'd like him to see Arnie here on his last trip around,'
 
Phillips said, nodding at his son. 'When he's my age, he'll be able to look at his pairing sheet and say he was here when Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus were all playing in the Masters at the same time.'
 
That Palmer was never in contention at his 50th consecutive Masters hardly mattered. The four-time Masters champion is 74 now and hasn't made the cut since 1983, and that streak is sure to continue Friday after his opening 12-over 84.
 
But for five hours Thursday, Palmer's fans got a chance to return all the love and respect they've gotten from him all these years. They lined up in the rain just for the chance to watch him tee off, and they were rewarded with a smile so bright it lightened the gray skies.
 
'Go get 'em, Arnie!' one fan yelled, and Palmer responded with a smile and a thumbs up.
 
'It was fun today,' Palmer said, 'feeling that adrenaline flowing like so many years.'
 
And for a few holes, at least, there were flashes of the old master. After a disappointing double bogey on the par-3 No. 4, he seemed to be in more trouble on the fifth when his 40-foot birdie putt reached the crest of a hill and rolled all the way back down to the edge of the green.
 
But Palmer knocked it in for par, and the crowd roared as if he'd hit the tournament winner.
 
On the par-3 No. 6, his tee shot went into the gallery on the left side of the green, well below the pin. This time Palmer chipped within inches of the hole, prompting one fan to yell, 'Pick it up!'
 
'I felt pretty good,' said Palmer, whose grandson, Sam Saunders, caddied for him. 'I thought maybe I might put something together.'
 
But he closed the front nine with bogeys on two of the last three holes and then opened the back with a double bogey and two bogeys.
 
'I was a little embarrassed by my score,' Palmer said. 'But I won't have to worry about it much longer. That's disappointing, because I enjoy playing.'
 
And golf is better because he did. Palmer was the dominant player of the 1960s, winning seven major championships. But it was his personality that altered the game forever.
 
He visited with fans in the gallery as he played, and they felt he was truly glad they were there. When fans applauded, he looked them in the eye and waved.
 
He was their friend.
 
'It's kind of like family,' said Charles Cooley of Stone Mountain, Ga., who has been coming to the Masters since 1956. 'You just feel like you know him.'
 
Ellen DeBois was 8 years old when she came with her father to her first Masters. While the other golfers were too busy to acknowledge her, Palmer took the time to talk to her. Just like that, a lifelong adoration was born.
 
DeBois, now 56, has been to 38 Masters and about 200 tournaments overall, all to see Palmer. She has a shrine to him at her house, and almost 400 of his autographs. On Thursday, she wore an Arnold Palmer T-shirt and a hat with buttons that read, 'I'll Really Miss You Arnie,' and 'I (Love) Arnie.'
 
'To me, he is golf,' said DeBois, who said she won't come back to the Masters again. 'There's nobody like him.'
 
No, there's not. And there probably never will be again. While Tiger Woods has fans the world over, and Phil Mickelson and John Daly draw big crowds, no one is revered like Arnie.
 
There was an uproar two years ago when Augusta National sent letters to some aging champions who had a tendency to withdraw after the first round, if not sooner. The message was for them to stop playing.
 
Palmer announced that the 2002 Masters would be his last, saying, 'I don't want to get a letter.' But the Masters softened its stance and Palmer changed his mind, deciding his 50th anniversary at Augusta was the perfect time to leave.
 
'I look forward to it,' Palmer said after his round Thursday. 'It'll be done tomorrow. But I'll never say it wasn't fun.'
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
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  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
     
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.