Notes The King Saw Tigers Magic Chip Coming
``There's a good chance he doesn't get this inside DiMarco's ball,'' CBS Sports analyst Lanny Wadkins said.
The King must have been smiling.
He had seen it all -- and heard it all -- four decades earlier.
``I was sitting in my living room describing it to my wife,'' Palmer said. ``I told her I had been in the same position.''
The year was 1962, and there were a few differences.
Instead of leading, Palmer was three shots behind Dow Finsterwald and two behind Gary Player when he went over the green on the 16th.
``Mine was a little higher,'' Palmer said. ``If you're looking from front to back, I was considerably right of where Tiger was. (Jimmy) Demaret was up on the tower and I could hear him talking. He was being dramatic. I heard him say, 'If Palmer gets this up and down, it will be a miracle. It's really difficult, the green is really fast' -- all those adjectives. I wanted to look up and tell him, 'Hold it for a minute.'
``I pitched it and it rolled down, much the same as Tiger's did,'' Palmer said. ``It didn't have the same break, but the pin was almost in an identical position. And I won the tournament.''
Verne Lundquist made the call for CBS when Woods chipped in.
``Oh, wow!'' he said. ``In your life, you have ever seen anything like that?''
Well, anyone watching in 1962 probably did.
Then again, Palmer's ball did not hang on the edge of the cup for two full seconds, adding to the drama of the shot. And while Woods and Palmer won the Masters in a playoff, the ending was quite a contrast.
Equipped with a two-shot lead, Woods bogeyed the last two holes and beat DiMarco in sudden death with a 15-foot birdie on the first extra hole.
Palmer, still two shots behind after his chip-in, hit an 8-iron to 15 feet for birdie at No. 17 and got into a three-way playoff when Finsterwald dropped a shot on the 17th. Palmer shot 68 in the 18-hole playoff Monday to beat Player (71) and Finsterwald (77).
CHANGES TO THE OLD COURSE
The Road Hole bunker on the 17th at St. Andrews will be slightly wider for the British Open. That should make it easier for balls to catch the side and tumble in, although some believe the extra width will make it easier to get out of the bunker, ruining the most notorious bunker in golf.
``I completely disagree,'' Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said. ``The Road Hole bunker has never been the same from one Open to the next. To say it has been ruined from what it was is completely false. I think that bunker has improved from what it was.''
The bunker fronts the green on the 455-yard hole and has vertical sides. David Duval took four shots to get out in the final round of 2000 British Open, tumbling to 11th place.
Along with the Road Hole bunker, the R&A has lengthened the Old Course by 164 yards to a distance of 7,279 yards by extending tee boxes on five holes. The par-5 14th now measures 618 yards, the longest for a British Open.
``We are restoring rather than changing the course,'' Dawson said. ``Modern equipment and the greater athleticism of the game's leading players has led to many of the Old Course hazards being taken out of play. We are not trying to change the character of the course, just trying to reinstate the challenges, decisions and hazards players had to contend with in the past.''
Tiger Woods won in 2000 at St. Andrews and did not hit into a bunker all week.
PRICE IS RIGHT
Nick Price won't have to worry about qualifying for the U.S. Open. The USGA said Tuesday the three-time major champion has accepted a special exemption.
The U.S. Open will be played June 16-19 at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Without the exemption, Price would have had to finish in the top 50 after the Memorial to avoid qualifying. He currently is No. 72.
Price, 48, earlier this year was presented the Bob Jones Award by the USGA in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
THE ROAD MORE TRAVELED
Ernie Els is spending his second week in China this week at the BMW Asian Open, and the South African is starting to sense criticism for his global travels.
He changed his schedule this spring, adding the Qatar Masters the week after the Dubai Desert Classic (he won them both) before returning to the PGA Tour to play the Bay Hill Invitational and The Players Championship going into the Masters. Els said a bout with the flu might have contributed to his swing getting out sync at Augusta National.
He finished 47 at the Masters at 10-over 298.
``I guess there is a good argument on that, and it's easy to blame it on the schedule,'' he said. ``It seems like especially in America, the journalists have been playing a lot on that. But I've done what I am doing for 12 years now, and my record is not too bad. We can sit and argue about this for hours, and I will listen to what you have to say and I will tell you what I am saying. So that is that.''
Els' schedule leading to the U.S. Open is busy, but manageable in a private jet. He plans to take next week off, then play the Byron Nelson Championship, a week off, the BMW Championship in England, a week off, then the Memorial, Booz Allen Classic and the U.S. Open.
David Duval's wife, Susie, gave birth to the couple's first child on April 21. Brayden Brent Duval was 21 inches long and weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Mother and son were both healthy and already home in Denver. ... A victory this week by Vijay Singh will make him the first player since Johnny Miller in 1975 to defend PGA Tour titles in consecutive weeks. ... Tiger Woods is the only player in the top 10 in driving distance who has won on tour this year.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Annika Sorenstam has taken five weeks off from the LPGA Tour only one other time in the last 10 years. That was last fall, and she won the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic in Tulsa, Okla., by five shots.
``I think we will see a lot of him this year, without question. He's strong, he's playing good. He's right where he wants to be.'' -- Arnold Palmer, on Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.