Jason Gore cant forget chance meeting with Arnold Palmer

By Associated PressMarch 27, 2009, 4:00 pm
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. ' Walk up the back stairs of the clubhouse at Bay Hill Lodge toward the office of Arnold Palmer and it is hard to miss the many photos of two of golfs most charismatic figures ' Palmer and Tiger Woods.
Woods is a six-time winner at Bay Hill ' five times in what now is called the Arnold Palmer Invitational, once in 1991 when he captured the first of three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles.
Too bad there are no pictures of The King and The Prince.
That would be Jason Gore, still known in some parts as the Prince of Pinehurst for his unlikely journey to the final group of the U.S. Open in 2005 before he staggered home to an 84.
Who wouldnt pay to see that photo of an 11-year-old Gore posing with a 55-year-old Palmer at Latrobe Country Club in western Pennsylvania, the course where Palmer grew up?
Gore, who opened with a 5-under 65 on Thursday for a one-shot lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, has family in the Pittsburgh area and went there one summer. He talked his mom into driving him to Latrobe Country Club.
Drove in like we owned the place, Gore said. I was wearing a light blue Town & Country surf design T-shirt with a big, ugly emblem on the back. And I had these shorts that had yellow and pink and blue and red. I dont know what they were 'obnoxiously terrible. Never been on a surfboard in my life, but I looked like a surfer.
They asked if Palmer was around. Turns out he was.
Before long, Palmer drove up in a cart that Gore remembers looking like a tractor. Palmer was gracious as ever, posing for a picture, signing a scoreboard and dropping a big surprise.
He said, Son, Im going to go hit balls. Would you like to come watch? Gore said. I sat right on the little slope behind the first tee and watched Mr. Palmer hit balls for about 45 minutes. And from that point on, I knew I wanted to be a professional golfer.
Gore has done fine for himself.
After the final-round debacle at Pinehurst No. 2, he rallied to win three straight times on the Nationwide Tour to earn his PGA Tour card, then he won the 84 Lumber Classic ' near Pittsburgh, of all places.
But his game has gone south, and Gore failed to finish in the top 125 last year. After he failed to make it through Q-School, he sought out swing coach Mike Abbott to overhaul his action, and the results have been slow in coming.
Gore has played seven times this year, some on sponsor exemptions, and has yet to finish in the top 20.
Thats what made Thursday so pleasant.
He hit a hybrid 2-iron onto the par-5 12th green for eagle and was having a good round until it turned much better over the final hour with three birdies in his final four holes.
Gore had a one-shot lead over Jeff Overton and Tim Herron, who won at Bay Hill in a playoff 10 years ago.
Woods had few complaints.
He played with Padraig Harrington ' they have won five of the last six majors 'along with Mark Wilson, whom Woods defeated for his second straight U.S. Junior Amateur title.
The best of the bunch ' Wilson, of course.
He played bogey-free as Woods and Harrington saw far more of the course. Woods had a 68, Harrington a 70.
Wilson learned anew not to count Woods out of any hole.
He was some 20 feet away for birdie on the opening hole, while Woods had gone into the rough, short of the green and faced a tough flop shot from 30 yards away over a bunker, with not much green between the sand and the flag.
Im looking at it going, he could start out with a double (bogey) here, Wilson said. Its an easy shot to hit short, leave in the rough and not get that one up-and-down. Then he hits a beautiful shot that leaves a ball mark and then rolls like a putt right into the middle of the hole. That was an impressive start to the day.
It got even better on the back nine when Woods ran off four straight birdies ' part of a stretch of eight consecutive one-putt greens. But there was that tee shot in the water on the par-5 sixth that led to double bogey, and a late bogey with a poor chip behind the 17th green that brought Woods back.
Even so, 68 was a solid start.
I was not hitting it well, and I had to scramble and grind it out and manage to score, Woods said. He managed just fine, taking only 24 putts in the first round after ranking 74th in putting out of 79 players at Doral two weeks ago.
Gore is lucky to be here. He has limited status on the tour, but he asked Palmer for an exemption and received one.
Last year at a corporate outing, Gore was listening to Palmer regale an audience with a story when Gore shared one of his own ' the one about the time he met Palmer, the influence he had on his life.
He thought Palmer began to get tears in his eyes.
It might have been what I wanted him to do, so I might have been making that up, Gore said with his infectious laugh. But he shook my hand, pulled me in and gave me a hug.
Gore was playing in the pro-member tournament at Seminole earlier this month when he ran into the King and thanked him for the exemption to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He looked at me and winked, and he said, I never forgot that story.
Its amazing that Gore didnt well up with tears.
The littlest things he does for a punk dressed in surf clothes who was trespassing on his property changes lives, Gore said. Hes got that power, and thats what makes him the King. And thats why hes the greatest person to this game.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''