Will golf next see another Tiger or another Arnie

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2009, 4:00 pm
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. ' The aging, yellow Lab named Mulligan stretched out on the carpet next to the office door at Bay Hill and didnt move except to lift his eyelids when footsteps disrupted his morning nap.
 
Suddenly, he lifted his head and staggered to all fours, wagging his tail when he heard a familiar voice coming up the stairs.
 
Arnold Palmer climbed the final few steps and smiled at his dog.
 
For more than 50 years, Palmer has made everyone around him feel better.
 
Thats why hes the King.
 
And thats why he is more relevant than ever in the world of the golf. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is asking players to be more aware of how good they have it. He wants them to be reminded that they essentially are working for the corporate sponsors writing the checks and for the fans behind the ropes, both of whom make it all possible.
 
Last week, tour officials posted a notice on the bulletin board in the locker room at the Transitions Championship. Please remember to thank the CEO of this weeks event, it read. Cards have been placed in your lockers for you convenience.
 
Anyone think Palmer ever needed a reminder like that?
 
Brad Faxon remembers the first time he played with Palmer. It was his rookie season in 1984 at The Players Championship, and when the announcer began to introduce Faxon by saying, In his first year on Tour, Palmer mocked surprise as if the announcer were talking about him. The gallery roared with laughter.
 
Even more memorable about that day was what Palmer said to him as they walked off the first tee.
 
He said, If you want to have an impact, be sure to look every fan in the eye, Faxon said.
 
With his power and charisma and sheer passion for the game, Palmer was responsible for bringing golf to the masses a half-century ago. He won his first Masters the year it was first televised. No other athlete has remained more relevant in retirement.
 
Palmer is the host this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, making him one of only two players to have a PGA Tour named after him (Byron Nelson is the other). He last competed in an official event in 2006, but he will play in the pro-am Wednesday, and four amateurs most certainly will have a day they wont forget.
 
The defending champion at Bay Hill is Tiger Woods, the greatest player of his generation, well on his way to winning more PGA Tour events and major championships than anyone.
 
Players like him dont come around very often, if at all. He has transcended his sport to become the most famous athlete in the world. He won a U.S. Open by 15 shots. He won another U.S. Open on one leg.
 
Palmer is golfs greatest ambassador. Woods might be its greatest player.
 
All of which leads to an intriguing question.
 
Which is golf more likely to see next? Another Tiger Woods or another Arnold Palmer?
 
Padraig Harrington cast his vote for another Tiger, mainly because of the media and celebrity culture.
 
Its hard to be an Arnold Palmer now, he said. I dont know if the era could happen again where you could have somebody like Arnold Palmer, who was a man of the people. Now, sports people tend to be a bit more aloof and detached.
 
Peter Jacobsen said he expected to see another Palmer before another Woods.
 
Like day turns into night, I think youll see the Tour change again very soon, said Jacobsen, in town for a PGA Tour board meeting and to work for NBC Sports on the weekend. Weve already gone from a Tour thats got lots of characters to a Tour with guys who are intense, quiet and driven. I think were likely to see the next Arnold Palmer.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem took a safe seat on the fence.
 
Gosh, thats a really hard question, he said. They would both be extremely difficult to replicate, theres no question about it. Just have to wait and see. Maybe well have two or three come out next year.
 
He didnt mention who those two or three would resemble, but its clear who golf could use more at the moment.
 
Golf is more interesting when Woods has a rival. Mickelson has resurfaced this year and could be No. 1 in the world before the Masters. Harrington is a threat as he tries to join Woods as the only players to win three straight majors over the last 50 years.
 
Even so, Woods attracts interest even when no one is there to challenge him.
 
Tiger is more like Jack (Nicklaus) was early in his career, Faxon said. He was dedicated to improving himself and his career, and winning majors, which is great for the Tour.
 
But does Woods look fans in the eye? Does he remember the names of people he met 10 years ago no matter the size of their role? Does he see the media as a way to promote golf, or does he see them as an obstacle?
 
Finchem is asking players to do more for the Tour, for the fans and for the sponsors. Woods has said he will do his part, but the details were vague until word began to leak about a private function Monday at Isleworth. Woods hosted a breakfast and a clinic for a dozen or so CEOs of companies that are PGA Tour title sponsors.
 
He did something extra that he was asked to do, Rocco Mediate said. And when your No. 1 player says, OK, thats cool.
 
The best thing for golf would be the arrival of another Arnold Palmer.
 
Especially if his name were Tiger Woods.
 

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  • 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 sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    Cook 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.

    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.

    Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

    Those plans changed after a few weeks.

    “What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

    “Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

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    The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

    Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

    The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

    “I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

    S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

    By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Park kept right on attacking.

    The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

    ''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

    Leave that to the players chasing her.

    Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

    Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

    So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

    The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

    Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

    ''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

    Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

    ''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

    That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

    Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

    ''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

    Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

    Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

    ''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

    Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

    Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

    Does anything make her nervous?

    ''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

    It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.

    Korda sisters poised to make a run at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 9:47 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Jessica Korda wasn’t feeling well making her way around the CME Group Tour Championship battling congestion Friday, but the leaderboard walking to the ninth tee gave her a nice lift.

    That’s where she saw younger sister Nelly’s name tucked right next to hers.

    They were within a shot of each other amid hard charges up the leaderboard, with Nelly playing just in front of her.

    “I was like, 'Dang!’ It was good to see,” said Jessica, 24. “It’s fun to see her playing this well. I know what she puts into it. I’m kind of jealous of the rookie year she’s having, because mine sucked.”

    Nelly, 19, is looking to put a special ending on her first year on tour. She posted a 6-under-par 66, good for a tie for fourth, six shots behind Sung Hyun Park (65). Nelly has given herself a weekend shot at her first victory.

    Just a year ago, Nelly was here as a spectator, watching her sister.


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    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    “I found it funny,” Nelly said. “I was walking to the range on Tuesday, thinking just last year, people were asking me, 'When are you going to be out here?’ It seems surreal to be out here, playing alongside my sister and the best players in the world.

    “Being in contention is really, really special.”

    Jessica shot 68 and sits a shot behind her sister.

    Nelly said seeing the leaderboard gave her a lift, too.

    “Maybe it amps me up just a little bit,” Nelly said. “It’s a friendly competition. Even though we want each other to succeed, we also want to beat each other. I think she would say that, too.”

    Jessica is seeking her fifth LPGA title. She’s coming off a tie for third at the Blue Bay LPGA last week.

    Jessica is 35th on the LPGA money list this year, with $515,521 in earnings. Nelly is 51st, with $388,983 in earnings.

    “I definitely look for Jess on the board,” Nelly said. “We’ve very supportive of each other.”