Six Hall of Fame members in Champions Skins Game

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2009, 5:00 pm
2005 WendyKAANAPALI, Hawaii ' His name is still engraved on a gold plate on locker No. 138 but for the first time in a dozen years, the King isnt around.
Arnold Palmer is skipping the Champions Skins Game for the first time since 1997 when he was recovering from prostate cancer surgery. His absence ends an era in the all-star event he won three times in his 20 starts dating to 1988.
Palmer, who turned 79 in September, earned just one skin in the previous four years. However, he was always the fan favorite.
Hes been a fixture, Jack Nicklaus said. I think theyve tried to accommodate him every year, as Arnolds gotten older. Its just been more and more difficult for him. He finally said, Hey, Ive had enough. Probably right for him but its too bad.
Making his 19th appearance, Nicklaus has the most Champions Skins Game seniority of this weekends elite eight, which includes six members of the World Golf Hall of Fame who have won a combined 43 majors.
I look at the tournament poster and see the other seven guys and I think How did I get my mug on that poster with those guys? said Jay Haas, the only player without a major championship. Theyre Hall of Fame players and its just exciting for me to be here and be among those guys. I just hope I can make the most of it.
During the pro-am, Nicklaus looked relaxed in shorts and Golden Bear-logoed socks. He played about three times during the holidays, but doesnt touch a club too often.
Thats a lot for me. I dont really play any golf, he said. My golf game? Who knows? Its an absolute crap shoot.
Nicklaus is a three-time winner and owns 10 records including most career skins (104) and career money ($2,430,000).
He is paired with Tom Watson in the two-day event that is being played in an alternate-shot, four-team format for the fourth straight year.
The 59-year-old Watson is playing in his first competitive event since August. He had left hip replacement surgery in October.
Watson said the team of Haas and Greg Norman are the favorites. Also entered are Ben Crenshaw-Fuzzy Zoeller and Gary Player-Bernhard Langer.
Im excited about it and to be paired with Gary Player, who was my golfing idol growing up, makes it even more special, said Langer, who is coming off a three-win season where he captured both Champions Tour player of the year and rookie of the year honors.
The duo have combined for 231 victories worldwide.
The diminutive 73-year-old Player couldnt explain his success in his illustrious career with nine major victories. He called it God-loaned talent.
Its an inner something and you just cant explain, he said. I played with people who were much better than me from tee to green and yet Ive beat them. Golf is a puzzle without an answer.
Norman, Langer and Crenshaw are making their Champions Skins Game debuts. Crenshaw, a two-time Masters winner, was a last-minute replacement for co-defending champion Peter Jacobsen, who withdrew because of a left shoulder injury.
Im very happy to join them, Crenshaw said. I think the world of all of them. Theyve accomplished so much. To be with them is very special for me.
Last year, Zoeller-Jacobsen dominated the second day, teaming for six skins and $320,000, all earned on the back nine.
Zoeller tapped in for par to take the final $100,000 skin on the first playoff hole. It was the 17th time in 21 events that extra holes were needed.
Conditions this weekend are expected to be breezy, which could challenge the players who havent played competitively in months. The threat of high winds closed schools for most of Hawaii on Friday with most government employees on Maui told to stay home.
But the weather held up well, where it was partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 80s with occasional strong winds, but nowhere near the 50 mph gusts that were predicted.
The tournament is being played at the Royal Kaanapali Course for the second year after six years at Wailea, located a half-hour drive down the stunning coastline. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the par-71 layout stretches 6,700 yards and hosted the Champions Tours Kaanapali Classic for 14 years.
Kaanapali is where Nicklaus teamed with Palmer to win the 1964 Canada Cup, the precursor to the World Cup. Nicklaus also won the individual title.
The four teams will compete for a $770,000 purse with the first six skins worth $30,000, Nos. 7-12 $40,000, the next five $50,000 and No. 18 $100,000.
Each player will donate 10 percent of his winnings to charity.
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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

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    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 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 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.''