Notes Fore Please Arnold Palmer

By Brian HewittMarch 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
The host of this weeks Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard engaged the media Wednesday at Bay Hill. And he made news.
For starters, he said he might become the honorary starter at the Masters Tournament. And he didn't rule out the possibility of that happening this year. 'I'm giving it some very careful consideration,' he said.
Palmer also said he is not married to the two significant changes he made this year'switching Nos. 4 and 16 to par-4s'for the future.
Is that (the changes) something were going to hang with in the future? he said. I cant really tell you that. We think it might add a little spice to the tournament (this year).'
Palmer pointed out that both the fourth and 16th holes used to be par-4s before being converted to par-5s. Palmer also said there will be physical changes to the par-4 third (move the tee) and par-5 sixth (move the green) that will take affect for the 2008 Bay Hill tournament.
Long-term, he also said, hed like to install a Sub-Air system under the greens for better drainage.
Tiger Woods has played Bay Hill 11 times and is a cumulative 82 under par in those appearances.
Interesting to note that 57 of those under par strokes have come on the fourth and 16th holes.
Henrik Stenson has rocketed to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking after winning at Dubai and the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Both those events included Tiger Woods in the field and suddenly Stenson finds himself on a very short list of favorites for next months Masters.
Earlier this week at Bay Hill, Stenson warned me against making book on him just yet. Ill be happy with a top 10, the powerful Swede said. And Im not ashamed to say that.
Last year was Stensons first Masters and, he says, he was fighting his swing at the time. As a result, he failed to make the cut.
Back on the subject of this years Masters, he added, There might be a better way to invest your life savings than on me. Stenson also said he has no plans to make an early trip to Augusta to scout the golf course. He said he will arrive the Sunday before the event.
The Honda Classic was an unqualified success at PGA National two weeks ago except for the matter of the security problems that stemmed from spectators'some of them with cameras'gaining access to the course through the homes of on-course residents.
Bay Hill is also mostly surrounded by homes. But tournament director Scott Wellington has told me Bay Hill homeowners are aware their guests must have tickets to enter the tournament grounds.
If they dont, he said, there are Orange County Sheriffs officers'on bicycles'to enforce the rules.
There had been speculation in some quarters that Jerry Chang, one of Woods very best friends, might be in line to become the tournament director at the newly-minted AT&T National.
Greg McLaughlin, president of the Tiger Woods Foundation, will serve as the interim tournament director until the position is filled full time.
When I asked McLaughlin about Chang he said he doubted he could pay Chang the kind of money Chang is currently earning in his current occupation as an investment banker in California for Morgan Stanley.
Its no secret how much Ernie Els, 37, wants to win the Masters before he retires. So far, Els has won two U.S. Opens and on British Open.
Asked Tuesday if he would trade his two U.S. Opens for one Green Jacket, Els didnt hesitate.
No, he said. I worked too hard for those two (U.S. Opens).'
Asked if he had a favorite Arnold Palmer moment, defending champion Rod Pampling said, Him handing me the trophy last year.
Since Tiger Woods won his last U.S. Amateur in 1996 several winners of that event have failed to live up to certain peoples expectations. To name a few: David Gossett, Hank Kuehne, Matt Kuchar.
Jeff Quinney, also a former U.S. Amateur champion, is having the best year of his career. Quinney has made the cut in all seven events he has played in and has earned $975,805 which puts him 14th on the PGA TOUR money list. He also ranks 13th in the FedExCup points standings and has four top 10 finishes.
For his part, Quinney doesnt totally buy into the Curse of the U.S. Amateur theory.
There is kind of a misconception that (winning the U.S. Amateur) guarantees your TOUR card or so many starts. You still have to get the sponsor invites and go through Q-school just like everybody else. It (the U.S. Amateur) is a big tournament but its no different than, like, the NCAA or anything like that. Its just as tough to win as one of those.
I dont think everyone has struggled.... Obviously, they are not all top 20 in the world maybe right now, but they have all done pretty good. Its just something youre just proud to be a club to.
Obviously, its not guaranteed success out here, but you know its a pretty proud achievement we all hold on to.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.