Athletes Speed Cars And Danger

By Brian HewittMarch 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The larger issue came under the microscope again Tuesday at Bay Hill as the best players in the world prepared for Thursdays first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
 
Here was the question under examination: Is the commonly accepted notion that professional athletes are people who drive fast cars at dangerously high speeds a fair stereotype?
 
Yeah, I suppose you could stereotype it that way, said Rod Pampling, the Bay Hill defending champion referring to athletes in general.
 
Fair or unfair stereotype, a follow-up questioner wanted to know.
 
Oh, I think its a fair comment, Pampling added. I think most guys have cars that are relatively a bit quicker than the standard car.
 
The issue of deadly speed was raised in a golfing context Saturday when PGA TOUR member Arjun Atwal was involved in open road incident that resulted in the death of another driver when that drivers Mercedes, traveling at speeds of more than 100 miles an hour according to witnesses, crashed into a tree.
 
Atwals BMW ran off the road and he was unharmed. Law enforcement officials are still investigating to determine, among other things, whether or not Atwal and the deceased were engaged in a form of street racing. All of this took place in Windermere, Fla., not more than 20 minutes from Bay Hill.
 
Thats going to be tough on Arjun to live with for the rest of his life, Pampling said. You dont know what really happened yet, so its hard to say whats going on.
 
Making it even more difficult for Atwal is the need to remain silent while the authorities sift through the details and the wreckage. Sunday night, Atwals agent released a statement expressing Atwals deepest condolences to the family of the dead man.
 
Meanwhile, a news service in India published comments from Atwals father, Harminder Atwal, saying he had spoken with his son and that his son didnt know the other driver and wasnt engaged in any kind of street race.
 
He is a trifle nervous but otherwise OK, the story quoted the elder Atwal as saying.
 
Harminder Atwal said his son was returning home from a golf practice session when he saw, through his rear view mirror, the other vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. He said his son believed the man was chasing him.
 
As it (the other car) was coming at a very, very high speed, Harminder Atwal said, Arjun apprehended that the car will hit his vehicle and he also speeded up a little bit. But the person driving the other car may have thought that he (Arjun Atwal) wanted to race and speeded up further.
 
Meanwhile, back at the larger issue, PGA TOUR player Jeff Quinney disagreed with Pampling to this extent: I dont think of professional athletes as being fast drivers, he said. They own nice cars. But that doesnt necessarily mean they drive them fast.
 
The key word there is necessarily.
 
The opinion here is that professional athletes are a subset of a larger group comprised of people with large amounts of disposable income. Many of those people have obtained that income by taking risks'either on playing fields or in business arenas.
 
Driving a fast car at a high rate of speed, for many of those people, can be addictive. Not always. But often.
 
The opinion here is also that Atwal will be cleared in this matter. The incident took place at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon not more than a mile from his Keenes Pointe home. If he was out looking to race, logic dictates he would have chosen another location.
 
Atwals father insists Florida law enforcement officials only took a statement from his son and are not looking to charge him with any wrongdoing.
 
Atwal is not entered in this weeks tournament at Bay Hill.
 
Its a tough thing to comment on, Pampling said.
 
But its not hard to imagine that professional athletes everywhere swallowed hard when they heard the news about Atwal.
 
One of Atwals Keenes Pointe neighbors told me Monday he owns a car similar to Atwals, one capable of reaching top speed quickly.
 
Im shaken by this, he said. My next car is going to be an SUV. Im serious.
 
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.