Palmer still reigns at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 25, 2010, 4:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Fans entering the Arnold Palmer Invitational walk through a tent filled with moments and memories of the King, from the winners of his Bay Hill tournament to the tournaments he won in a career that made him one of golf’s most enduring figures.

Five players sat on bar stools late Wednesday evening during a chat with sponsors, all sharing stories of when they first met Palmer.

Kevin Stadler recalls being a 10-year-old in awe of meeting this larger-than-life figure. He used to come to Bay Hill with his father, former Masters champion Craig Stadler.

Daniel Chopra is a member at Bay Hill. He remembers first joining the club, seeing Palmer for the first time, shocked that Palmer knew who he was and that Palmer would walk over to introduce him.

“I haven’t met a lot of royalty,” Chopra said. “But that’s what it felt like.”

The Arnold Palmer Invitational gets under way Thursday with a strong field – Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk among 11 of the 13 winners on the PGA Tour this year. That list doesn’t even include Phil Mickelson, a past winner.

Most of them put Bay Hill on the schedule because of Palmer, who owns Bay Hill.

Missing is the figurative owner – Tiger Woods.

It will be the first time that Woods has missed the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the only regular PGA Tour event he had never missed as a pro. Woods, who hasn’t played since a sex scandal over the Thanksgiving holiday, decided instead to make his return at the Masters.

“I will say we are disappointed Tiger isn’t here to play,” Palmer said.

That was all he had to say Wednesday, preferring to keep his opinions private at the moment. A reporter had asked it was time for the media to move on, and Palmer repeated those words.

But not for long.

When he gave a public apology before a worldwide television audience on Feb. 19, Woods said he needed to make his behavior “more respectful of the game” when he returned. Palmer then was asked how Woods might do that.

“I don’t think that’s my position to say,” he said. “I think it’s up to him to do and say whatever he feels he needs to do to redeem the situation, put it in the proper place. My opinion, as I said, I was going to keep to myself. But I suppose the best thing he could do would be open up and just let you guys shoot at him, and that’s just my thought.”

That chance will come April 5 at the Masters, as Augusta National sent out an interview schedule that featured Woods speaking at 2 p.m. on Monday of the Masters.

In the meantime, Palmer is more interested in his tournament, particularly his course.

Palmer had the entire crew from his design company revamp all the greens, replacing the sand base 18 inches deep, changes the strain of grass and altering the contours to allow for more hole locations.

The tee boxes were upgraded, and one was moved. The tournament tee for the 15th hole is now located on the other side of Bay Hill Boulevard. It measures 467 yards, eliminating the chance to cut the corner of the dogleg.

The scorecard certainly is different. After experimenting as a par 70 the last three years, Palmer thought it was better for Bay Hill to return as a par 72, restoring the fourth and 16th holes to par 5s to create more excitement at the end of the round.

“It’s not as quirky,” Stephen Ames said. “The changes are great. It’s more playable for everybody, not just the big hitters.”

The focus often shifts to the Masters this time of the year no matter what’s going on with Woods. Bay Hill always has been part of the critical buildup to the first major of the year.

But with Palmer as the host, and a course the players might find more agreeable, the tournament is getting its equal share of attention. That’s the way Stewart Cink is looking at it.

“I would like to drive the ball really well here and putt really well here and then I can go home saying, ‘I can’t wait to play in the Masters.’ And then I have to wait seven days, and that will probably go away,” he said.

“So I just want to play Bay Hill for Bay Hill, and try to have a great finish here, maybe win, and just get myself some confidence going into the Masters.”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.