Palmer Leaves His Mark at The Masters
They were paired together for the first time 20 years ago at The Players Championship, a 22-year-old in his first full season on the PGA Tour playing with the man responsible for what golf had become.
'He said one thing to me I'll never forget,' Faxon said. 'He said, 'The key out here is to look everybody in the eye, to make eye contract.' He was talking about the fans.'
A guy who spends a half-century of golf putting people first is bound to make a few friends.
Arnie had a whole army of them.
The troops will gather at Augusta National again this year to bid farewell to Palmer, who is playing his 50th consecutive -- and final -- Masters.
'It's going to be exciting for me,' Palmer said. 'And it's going to be somewhat sentimental. It's kind of an opportunity to say goodbye to all of the fans who have been so supportive over the last 50 years, and have been the reason that I have played as long as I have.'
Gene Sarazen hit the shot that put the Masters on the map. Jack Nicklaus has more Green Jackets. Tiger Woods is behind the exponential growth in prize money.
Palmer was simply the king.
'I remember waking up when I was 5 or 6 years old, and waiting for the paperboy at 5 in the morning to drop off the paper so I could see how Arnie did at the Masters,' Jeff Sluman said. 'I would coming running into the kitchen and yell, 'Arnie shot 68!''
This is the 40th anniversary of Palmer's fourth Masters, the last of his seven professional majors.
Palmer hasn't made the cut since 1983. That was also the last time he broke par at Augusta National.
None of it matters.
No one cares about the score, only that he plays.
'Every time Arnie plays a round, it's like a celebration,' Faxon said. 'I'm sure it's getting old for Arnie because he's not competitive like he used to be. But nobody enjoys doing it like him. I think it's awesome.'
For Palmer, it has always been about the fans.
He was asked recently for his fondest memories of the Masters. It wasn't his first trip down Magnolia Lane, the jokes told during the Champions Dinner or any of his four victories.
'The fans. The people,' Palmer said with that twinkle in his eye. 'Hell, I know them all by name. They'd call me at home most of the year, see if I was going to play.'
Palmer played his first Masters in 1955 as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, the kid from Latrobe, Pa., with strength rippling through his sweater and pants he always hitched before big shots.
His first Masters victory remains one of the most pivotal moments in golf.
Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, television was just starting to discover golf, and a group of soldiers from nearby Fort Gordon were manning the scoreboards as Palmer swung from the heels and charged into the lead in the 1958 Masters.
'They held up signs about Arnie's Army,' Palmer recalled. 'I didn't know where they were from and where they got the idea. It was just the fact that they were in the Army. They thought that was pretty clever.'
Arnie's Army was born, and golf's first popularity boom was under way.
With each Green Jacket, the legend grew.
He won the 1960 Masters with a 30-foot birdie on the 17th and a 6-foot birdie on the 18th to beat Ken Venturi by one shot. It took 38 years before another player birdied the final two holes to win the Masters.
Equally dramatic was Palmer's victory in 1962, when he chipped in for birdie on the 16th, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 17 and then parred the final hole to get into an 18-hole playoff. Palmer won the next day over Gary Player and his good friend, Dow Finsterwald.
'I remember that chip-in on 16 from television,' Tom Watson said. 'He was my hero. And Jack (Nicklaus) was the villain, darn right. To see him play his last Masters is going to be very special, very passionate to a lot of people.'
Nicklaus won his first Masters the following year, but Palmer responded with his most dominant victory at Augusta National, winning by six shots in 1964 over Nicklaus and Dave Marr.
'I remember Arnold Palmer in the '60s, when I first started playing golf,' Nick Price said. 'The Masters was the best tournament, and Arnold was the king. One of these days, he's not going to play. And it's going to leave a huge hole. We have him to thank -- and the people of Augusta have him to thank -- for where the tournament and modern golf is today.'
This actually will be the second farewell for Palmer.
There was an uproar two years ago when Augusta National sent letters to a couple of aging champions who had a tendency to withdraw after the first round, if not sooner. The message was for them to stop playing.
Palmer announced that the 2002 Masters would be his last, saying, 'I don't want to get a letter.'
Club chairman Hootie Johnson decided that past champions could play until they were 65, but Palmer and Nicklaus persuaded him to go back to the old policy. It was one of the few times that Johnson changed his mind.
Now, Palmer gets to leave on his own terms.
'With the way he played at tournaments like the Masters, he brought people to the game with his charisma,' Scott Verplank said. 'As great a player as he was, that might be his greatest contribution.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.
Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.
“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.
In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.