Cherry Hills First Hole Honors Palmer

By Associated PressJune 22, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 U.S. WomenCHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- The brick monument set to the side of the tiny first tee box beckons as both an honor and a challenge. It honors Arnold Palmer, who hit the shot of his life from that elevated location at Cherry Hills Country Club. It challenges anyone who hits a shot from there ever more.
 
This week, the 156 players entered in the U.S. Women's Open will get their chance.
 
'There's no point in hitting driver because there's no chance,' Laura Davies insists.
 
But heading into the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open, Palmer figured it was worth attacking the green on the 313-yard, par-4 hole. So, he hitched up his pant legs, grabbed a driver and cranked the ball through the thin, mile-high air. It flew about 300 yards, bounced hard in the rough and trickled out, onto the green.
 
The result was the first of four straight birdies, the beginning of what still stands as the greatest comeback in U.S. Open history.
 
'Actually, I hit it so good, I wasn't sure it wouldn't go over the green,' Palmer said Wednesday in a telephone interview from his office in Latrobe, Pa. 'So, I was happy to see it hit in the rough and go onto the green.'
 
That Palmer, the gambler's gambler, would take such a chance and produce one of the best shots in the history of golf wasn't a given until a lunchtime conversation with golf writers Bob Drum of the Pittsburgh Press and Dan Jenkins of the Fort Worth Press.
 
Back then, the final two rounds were played Saturday, and after his third round left him seven shots out of the lead, Palmer went to lunch and asked the writers how far a 65, which would leave him at even-par 280, might go toward winning the tournament.
 
'Doesn't 280 always win the Open?' Palmer said.
 
'Two-eighty won't do you a damn bit of good,' Drum replied.
 
Infuriated, Palmer left his hamburger at the table and stormed off to the first tee.
 
His eagle putt went two feet past the hole and Palmer settled for birdie. Still, the tone had been set. Palmer's four straight birdies helped him to the 65 he had predicted. The seven-shot deficit he made up still stands as the greatest final-day comeback in U.S. Open history.
 
Forty-five years later, Palmer said he still believes the shot on No. 1 at Cherry Hills is the one he will always be singularly identified with.
 
Could someone else become a part of that history this week?
 
A generation ago, no woman would even think about making the shot. But the players are better and so is the equipment, and the hole, which has been lengthened by about 30 yards, is eminently reachable for the top players.
 
During practice rounds, fans crowded around the first hole to watch the top players hit.
 
Despite being egged on, Annika Sorenstam simply pulled out a 4-iron and hit a shot safely down the middle of the fairway.
 
Michelle Wie went for it, but came about 15 yards short, into the thick rough, and later conceded that she probably won't do it once the shots start counting.
 
'I don't think that's the right play there,' she said.
 
If there's any player who might take a chance, it would figure to be a big hitter like Davies, but even she doesn't think the risk is worth it. The rough in front of the green is four inches long, much gnarlier than it was in Palmer's day.
 
'If they had cut the rough down in the front edge, it might be worth it,' she said. 'But there's no point leaving it 20 yards in that stuff.'
 
Arnie's advice if were he on Davies' bag? Take a wild guess.
 
'You don't have to ask me that,' Palmer said.
 
He conceded, though, that 'it takes a certain personality' to try to drive a par-4.
 
Certainly, the King had it.
 
He was at his peak in 1960. The win at Cherry Hills gave him the first two legs of the grand slam and was the third of seven major championships he won in a seven-year span.
 
'Arnie's Army' was taking off and Palmer was bringing a game for blue bloods and the country-club set straight to the common man.
 
It was gambits like the one he took on No. 1 at Cherry Hills that made it happen.
 
Today, besides the plaque and the rough, which is a little higher, the hole looks essentially the same as it did in 1960. A small ditch runs along the right side. It was that same ditch that Palmer hit into on his first shot of the tournament, en route to a double bogey.
 
'I felt like I had a chance to win the Open, and starting off with that happening is rather upsetting,' he said.
 
A few years after his victory, Palmer was called on to help redesign the golf course and, oddly enough, he wanted to move the tee box to a spot from where the green could not be reached.
 
He said his friends at the course talked him out of that move.
 
'They said, `Arnie, you made the hole famous. Put it back where it was,'' Palmer said. 'They objected to that, and I'm happy they did.'
 
Related Links:
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.