Palmer Couldnt Miss Return to Oakmont

By Associated PressJune 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- This is no sentimental journey for Arnold Palmer, not like that 1994 U.S Open at Oakmont. There will be no teary-eyed farewells, no difficult walks up the 18th fairway with thousands chanting his name and reveling in his lifetime of accomplishment.
 
Then, a 64-year-old Palmer said goodbye to the U.S. Open and big-time golf as a player. On Wednesday, it was evident that Palmer -- the honorary chairman for this U.S. Open -- never plans to put Oakmont in his past.
 
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer waves goodbye at the 1994 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
Palmer has played the course for 66 years, or since he was a 12-year-old in 1941, and he has too much emotional attachment to and too many great memories of Oakmont to not be part of the course's special moments. Even if he never won an Open there, despite coming close in 1962 and 1973, even if he won't play this time.
 
'One of the proudest days of my life is when I came here at 12 years old and played golf. I enjoyed it then, and I've enjoyed it through the years,' Palmer said.
 
From the late 1950s until today, the 77-year-old Palmer has been Mr. Golf in Pittsburgh. No major championship there would be the same without the man whose come-from-behind charges and winning personality were greatly responsible for popularizing golf on television a half-century ago and building a legion of fans called Arnie's Army.
 
His popularity was so vast that it is believed the hundreds of millions of dollars he has made in commercial endorsements are the most of any sports figure in history.
 
At Oakmont, though, he enjoys being one of the guys, albeit one who has won 62 tournaments, including four Masters, two British Opens and the 1960 U.S. Open.
 
Palmer now splits his time between Florida and his Latrobe, Pa., hometown, spending three or four months a year up north. He plays golf a few times a week, not competitively and usually with friends, and can shoot his age only on a good day, even at home course Latrobe Country Club.
 
Of course, there are the occasional forays to events such as the recent White House dinner with Queen Elizabeth. Asked what the two discussed, Palmer deadpanned, 'Oh, her golf.'
 
'Actually, we talked about a couple of golf courses in Scotland that I have played and I remarked about how I thought the links courses in England and Scotland were very fun to play,' Palmer said. 'And she liked that.'
 
Palmer keeps tabs on the game, engaging this week in long talks with several in the U.S. Open field, including Phil Mickelson. Palmer doesn't know if Mickelson's wrist injury will hurt his chances but thinks that will be a bigger barrier to a fourth major than Mickelson's 18th-hole collapse at Winged Foot a year ago.
 
'I think he'll brush last year away and go into this tournament with the thought of winning,' Palmer said.
 
Palmer also doesn't dispute that Tiger Woods, who has looked confident and composed all week, should be the favorite, if not a prohibitive one.
 
'He still has to play the golf course,' Palmer said. 'He has to do the same as Joe Porridge who has never been here -- he has the same opportunity as Tiger Woods. And all he has to do is hit that ball in the right place, put it in the right place and then putt it in the hole. And they don't care what his name is.'
 
Palmer also suspects many in the 156-player field, only a few of whom have played Oakmont in competition, don't know what they're getting into on a course that not only has the fastest greens in golf but also has been lengthened and stripped of its trees since that 1994 U.S. Open, won by Ernie Els in a three-way playoff.
 
'I've talked to some of the guys that have been out there and I've talked to some of the former champions who have been out there, and they tell me this field -- and this is just an observation -- is not really ready for Oakmont,' Palmer said. 'That they haven't really learned yet how to play Oakmont. They may do that in the next couple of days, but this golf course takes a lot of thought, and someone who really gives it that thought would have a chance.'
 
And, by the way, what did he shoot during that initial round at age 12, when he played Oakmont at the invitation of Latrobe businessman Harry Saxman.
 
'I shot 78,' Palmer said, trying not break into a smile that would give away his not-so-honest answer. 'Hell, I don't know what I shot.'
 
Kind of like his rounds these days. For a change, Arnold Palmer no longer has to keep score at Oakmont.
 
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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

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    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.''