Palmer Prepares for Final Event Near Home

By Associated PressMay 25, 2005, 4:00 pm
LIGONIER, Pa. -- Perhaps this best explains Arnold Palmer's game at age 75: He plays golf these days mostly for the exercise.
 
'I like to get out in the air and I like to walk,' said Palmer, golf's acknowledged king for multiple generations. Now, his tournaments and his years both winding down, Palmer plays mostly to lend his enormous prestige to a few selected events.
 
Kenny Perry and Arnold Palmer
One of Arnold Palmer's continuing endeavors is hosting his Bay Hill Invitational each year.
For Palmer, who is widely credited with singularly transforming American golf into a spectator sport as well as a participatory one, the Senior PGA championship that begins Thursday is his last elite-level tournament in his native Western Pennsylvania.
 
That raises this question of the golfer who still counts millions as members of the devoted legion of fans known as Arnie's Army: Is this the last significant tournament for one of the most recognized and successful athletes of all time?
 
Unlike Jack Nicklaus, who says this summer's British Open will be his last big tournament, Palmer isn't into definitives. He says only, 'I'm not going to make any rash statements about quitting or when I'm going to quit or what I'm going to do. I'll play ... as long as my old body will allow me to play, and I do enjoy it.'
 
But Palmer realizes nothing is forever - even if golfers now nearing retirement age have barely known the day when they couldn't flip on the TV and see Palmer play a competitive round. It's been 21 years since Palmer last won the Senior PGA, 17 years since he last won any PGA-level tournament, 12 years since his last Top 10 finish, 11 years since he last played in the U.S. Open, also in the Pittsburgh area.
 
Now, improbable as it might seem for the golfer who still makes more money away from the course than anybody except Tiger Woods, just making the cut is a near-impossible goal. He's shot 80 or above in five of his six Champion Tour rounds this year and, in a three-hole Senior PGA media day appearance last month, was outdriven on two holes by TV anchormen.
 
'My game is unsatisfactory at the moment ... I played a practice round (this week) with Jay Haas and, very frankly, he is swinging so well and playing so well it made me feel kind of inadequate out there,' Palmer said. 'I'm not sure that I have the physical ability to make that desire (to make the cut) fulfill itself. But I'm going to try.'
 
This wouldn't seem to be the way Palmer would want to see his remarkable career wind down, just a few miles from the Latrobe Country Club course where father Deke was the superintendent and, 60 years ago, he began to grow and polish his game.
 
But, and this is what may differentiate him most from Nicklaus, golf to Palmer has not always been about winning or merely competing - as his first-round 86 at last year's Senior PGA at Valhalla shows.
 
Just four months from his 76th birthday, Palmer still plays before spectators because this is what he loves to do. And he still loves it, even if his game is but a glimmer of what it was when he won 62 PGA tournaments from 1955-73 and 10 more on the Champions/Seniors tour.
 
'I don't really need to (play),' said Palmer, who sat out the Masters this year for the first time in a half-century. 'I can tell you this, that I still enjoy it. The difference between Jack and I, Jack has a lot of interests that are not necessarily golf.'
 
That's why, when it would seem there would be no earthly reason why he would want to see his score posted alongside those 15-20 strokes lower, Palmer still plays in selected charity tournaments and Champions Tour events.
 
'His body is not letting him play the kind of game he would love to play ... he was at that crossroads a number of years ago, but he has chosen to continue on, simply because I think that the fans still want to see him,' Champions Tour money leader Hale Irwin said.
 
Could it be Palmer is holding out to play a for-real round with his 17-year-old grandson, Sam Saunders, who caddied for him during his last Masters in 2004 and is attempting to qualify for this year's U.S. Open?
 
'I'm not one to hang around,' Palmer said, all but ruling that out. 'When I'm not playing, I'm gone.'
 
While Palmer isn't a threat to win on the 7,107-yard Laurel Valley Golf Club course he himself redesigned, plenty of others are. Among the top names are Haas, who has three top-3 finishes in as many Champion Tours events this year; Craig Stadler, who won five Champions tournaments last year and has two PGA Tour Top 10 finishes this year; Jim Thorpe, who has won two of his last three tournaments and Irwin, the defending champion.
 
Related Links:
  • TV Airtimes - Senior PGA Championship
  • Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - Senior PGA Championship
     
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.