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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    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.