Notes Player Not Thinking of Retiring

By Associated PressJuly 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 US Senior OpenST. LOUIS, Mo. -- At 69 and still in great physical shape, Gary Player has no plans to slow down.
'I'm not only going to continue events like this (U.S. Senior Open), I'm going to continue the (Champions) tour,' Player said.
Player hopes to become the first golfer to win in six decades -- his first PGA victory was the 1958 Kentucky Derby Open, and his most recent Champions Tour win cam at the 1998 Northville Long Island Classic.
'I've broken my age this year around the world six times,' Player said. 'I'm still athletic enough to win. I haven't been playing particularly well this year, but golf changes in a matter of seconds, minutes.'
Gary Player received a surprise visitor during his return to Bellerive Country Club for the U.S. Senior Open -- the caddie from his 1965 U.S. Open victory here.
Frank Pagel was a 16-year-old working at Bellerive, when players used local caddies. Player drew Pagel's name out of a hat.
Pagel, now a 55-year-old computer architect, visited with Player at an appearance Tuesday night and again after Player met with the media Wednesday.
Pagel said he enjoyed caddying for Player and despite some nerves, avoided any major mistakes.
'He was in such a trance I don't think I could have done anything to bother him,' Pagel said.
For the first three rounds of the tournament, Player listened to the teenager's advice on clubs. But not in the final round.
'I'd say, 'It's a 4-iron,' and he'd say, 'I'm pumped -- it's a five,'' Pagel recalled.
Bellerive Country Club might favor players who hook the ball, but don't expect Bruce Lietzke to change his swing.
The defending U.S. Senior Open champ figures he's at a slight disadvantage on the lengthy layout because hitting a hook isn't his game.
'I'm the poster boy for muscle memory,' Lietzke said. 'I have one swing.'
That one swing -- a soft, arcing fade -- has served the 53-year-old Lietzke well in over three decades. He has won 13 PGA Tour and seven Champions events.
But certain courses simply aren't set up well for Lietzke's swing. Augusta National, site of the Master's, is one layout. Bellerive is another.
'I've resisted all the temptations of a swing guru,' Lietzke said. 'If my swing works well on most courses, except for a couple a year, I'm happy with that.'
One thing that has changed for Lietzke is his putting. Early in his career, he putted cross-handed, then went conventional. In 1991, he began using a long putter and has kept it ever since.
'I found I was a half-putt better per day with the long putter,' Lietzke said. 'By Sunday afternoon, that's two shots in your pocket. That's the difference in money and, sometimes, a trophy.'
Hometown favorites Hale Irwin and Jay Haas drew big crowds for their practice rounds, but Arnie's Army was still in full force.
Arnold Palmer hasn't won since taking the Crestar Classic in 1988. Still, huge crowds follow his every step, cheer wildly for every good shot. At 75, Palmer doesn't see himself as simply a ceremonial figure.
'I would certainly, as all of you know, want to play better than I've been playing,' Palmer said. 'But I'm almost to the point where, yeah, I'm here because in the back of my head I'm still stupid enough to think that I can win a golf tournament.'
Palmer acknowledged that 'everything would have to go right, and that is important to me, and when that doesn't happen, then I won't be here, and this may be my last, but I'm going to enjoy it.'
After second-place finishes in the last two Senior Opens, Tom Watson believes he has a chance to win this year, despite a nerve condition that is limiting power in this right arm.
Watson said the nerve problem is believed to stem from his neck. It affects not only his length off the tee, but even his putting because of some weakness in his right hand.
'It's strange playing golf when I don't have the horsepower on my right side,' Watson said.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    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

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    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.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    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.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    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.