Notes Palmers Goal to Make Cut

By Associated PressApril 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Vijay Singh would be 81 years old by the time he matched Arnold Palmer's streak of 50 straight Masters. Tiger Woods would only be 69, but he had a more simple wish.
'I hope I'm not fertilizer by then,' Woods quipped Tuesday.
Palmer is playing for the 50th and final time at Augusta National, capping an incredible relationship with the course and tournament. He won the first of four Masters titles in 1958, and gave away many more than that, in his estimation.
'From '58, almost up to close to '70, maybe with a few exceptions, I would have had a shot every year,' he said.
When he first arrived for the event, he didn't think his game suited the course as it was set up then. The greens were very hard, harder even than now, in his eyes, and required a player to loft his shots high into the green.
'They really didn't give me much of a chance because I didn't hit the ball up in the air,' Palmer said. 'And to get the ball around the pin on this golf course, you generally had to hit it up in the air. So I figured out another way.'
When asked how he hoped his final tournament would end, more than likely Friday at the 36-hole cut, Palmer was quick with his answer.
'I know exactly how I want Friday to unfold. That's the easiest question I've had. I want to see what my starting time is on Saturday,' he said.
Tiger Woods has a message for amateurs playing in their first Masters - it can't be any worse than it was for him.
Woods was a 19-year-old amateur, paired with defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal, when he first played Augusta National in 1995. He was so pumped up that he smashed his drive over the bunkers on the first hole, leaving him a soft wedge that he hit pin-high.
'I hit the putt and just missed it on the top side,' Woods said. 'And it kept rolling, and rolling, and the gallery is parting. I keep telling every amateur that story because no matter how bad it seems, how nervous you are, more than likely you'll never have that experience of putting off the green on your first putt in competition.'
The good news?
'I pitched it back and made a putt,' Woods said. 'So technically, that's a two-putt.'
Everyone knows that Phil Mickelson has never won a major. One reporter rubbed it in Tuesday by asking Mickelson what he does on Tuesday night at Augusta National during the Champions Dinner.
Mickelson looked perplexed.
'Oh, you mean the Champions Dinner is tonight?' he asked. 'I didn't know that.'
Then he paused and poked fun at himself.
'Well, there's a reason why I don't know that,' he said.
Vijay Singh was asked about the development of Padraig Harrington, who often is compared to Singh for his practice habits.
'He does work hard,' Singh said. 'Every time you go on the driving range or putting green, he's there. You've got to give the guy credit.'
At the Players Championship, Singh got a firsthand look at how all the work is paying off when they were paired together in the third round. There was one particular part of Harrington's game that impressed Singh the most.
'His pace of play has improved, as well, which is a big thing,' Singh said, drawing laughter.
Well, Singh should be happy, then. He is in Harrington's group the first two days.
For the second straight year, the Masters will be shown commercial-free. That works out just fine for The First Tee, a program designed to bring more kids to the sport.
It will provide the public service announcements used during the telecasts, which will be the only interruption of coverage. Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson pulled the commercials because of the controversy involving the club's all-male membership.
The First Tee has introduced the game to about 300,000 people since 2000.
For $80, anyone can buy the shirt that Tiger Woods will wear in the first round Thursday.
Well, not the exact shirt, but one just like it.
Nike issued a news release on the outfits Woods would wear at the Masters, including Thursday's 'twist rib full-button polo in ghost, (with) a light shade of lavender blue,' according to the company.
The price for the shirt from Sunday goes up $5, and, of course, it's red.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.