Stories of the Palmer Legend
A story I once heard occurred at the 1965 Ryder Cup. Arnold was the first off on the first day, leading the American team with his limitless style. His foursomes partner was a Ryder Cup rookie and on the verge of bewilderment about the enormity of playing for his country in a far-flung arena. Arnold crushed his drive, as Arnold tended to do in those days, and his partner was left with a short iron to the green at the long par 4. Their opponents had hit a decent approach, but were out of birdie range, so the hole could be all but won with a solid second shot. Arnolds partner calmed his nerves as he stood over the ball, then swung. He hit so far behind the ball that for a moment he thought he had missed completely. Arnold asked Did I give you a bad lie? His partner replied, No, Im just so nervous I almost laid the divot on top of my ball. Arnold laughed and told the rookie Welcome to the Ryder Cup.
At lunch that day, U.S. team Captain Byron Nelson came upon the two eating lunch. Arnold, I think Ill put you with Johnny Pott this afternoon. Arnold looked up and said, Ive got my partner, well do fine this afternoon. That afternoon Arnold and my father never trailed in their match and ended up winning 6-and-5. Dad went on to win three of his next four matches and never forgot the show of support and confidence he received that day from his friend, and idol, Arnold Palmer.
We all have our favorite Arnold Palmer stories, some famous, some personal. A high-ranking Tour official told me of the time Arnold was Captain of the Presidents Cup and took command of the team bus on the way to the hotel from the course one day. He felt the team needed a little bonding and ordered an unscheduled stop at a sports bar. The team filed off the bus and headed inside for some pool, darts, refreshments, whatever they wanted. I for one would have loved to have seen the face of the owner when 13 of the most famous golfers in the world just popped in, unannounced.
At one point a golf fan asked Arnold for his autograph and Arnold declined. Arnold rarely refuses to sign autographs, but on this night he didnt want to burden the team with the inevitable memorabilia frenzy that accompanies those situations. It would have impacted the feeling of team unity he was building. The players continued to laugh and talk and play, growing closer to one another. When it was time to leave the players boarded the bus. Just before he got on, Arnold excused himself, saying he needed to use the restroom. He went back inside, found the autograph seeker, signed his name then headed back to the bus. Pure Arnold.
I remember going to the Bob Hope Desert Classic, when I was the executive director of the Tradition. I wanted to talk with Arnold and other players about playing in the Tradition. He was playing with the three Atlanta Braves pitchers, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.
On one hole Arnold teed off then waited at the Amateur tee for the Braves to hit theirs. As he was watching them hit, one by one, I noticed a kid, no more than ten years old, ignoring the golf and looking up at Arnold from inside the ropes. He was in a regulation-sized Shaquille ONeal jersey and had spiked blond hair. He was the exact opposite of Arnold, but the look on his face was one of pure idolatry, being an arms length from the King. After the last pitcher hit, Arnold turned toward the crowd and started to move toward the fairway when he noticed mini-shaq at his hip. He smiled that Arnold Palmer smile, messed up that spiked hair-do with his hand then went about his business. The gallery in the immediate vicinity giggled, the boy was absolutely stunned, he turned and looked up at the man standing behind him. The man, obviously his father, had tears of joy streaming down his face. The man bent at the knees and hugged his son as I turned away to follow Arnold.
Very few people have the ability to touch others in a way that they will remember for decades. Fewer still take advantage of that ability. Arnold has always shared himself with his fans more completely than any superstar with whom Ive had a chance to be around. Its as if he knows the joy he can bring to others and makes it a priority to do so. Such selflessness is rare in the modern sports world, and its why Arnold Palmer is the most beloved, and I believe the most important golfer in history.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.