QA with Arnold Palmer

By Erik PetersonMarch 23, 2010, 9:32 pm
arnold palmer

Arnold Palmer has 62 PGA Tour victories, including seven major championships. His golf course design business, Arnold Palmer Design, includes more than 250 original golf courses in 24 countries. In Sept. 2009 his company completed a wall-to-wall renovation of Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

How are course changes at Bay Hill coming along?
It’s coming along very, very well. We were concerned about the weather and the coolness but we’re going to have close to 80 degrees today so that wish is being taken care of and I’m thankful for that.

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How will the changes affect scoring for the tournament? Will we see a more difficult Bay Hill?
I’m not sure I can really give you a total on that, but I do think that the course will be better. Now, whether that means scoring will be better, I’m not so sure. In difference to what we’ve had over the years, the golf course is right there in front of you. You’re able to really see everything, including all the sand traps and all the greens, and we’ve added to the greens a little. We’ve put a new grass in the greens, we’ve done an awful lot of work, and to have it come out as well as it has, we’re extremely pleased with that. And with the warm weather now, things will start really turning for us.

Which holes will play most differently?
We have gone back to No. 4 will be a par 5 again, and No. 16 will be a par 5, and of course that will make par for the round 72. We think that will kind of add a little more interest, with the possibility of making eagles and birdies, and particularly coming in on the last three or four holes, it should be pretty exciting.

Which holes will be the key?
I think 16,17 and 18, certainly, but you can put 15 into that as well. There’s the possibility that we take the tee back across the road, which would make 15 a little longer and the green being rebuilt as it has with the run-off on the right side, that will make that hole pretty interesting.

What does it mean to you to have Bay Hill open to the general public?
We’re really not open to the general public. We are a resort, and, of course, if you’re staying in the hotel then you can play golf, and that is kind of the way that works. We have a lot of people come to play and they stay here and enjoy themselves very much.

Are you happy with Bay Hill’s place in the Orlando golf landscape?
We love it. And, of course, I think golfers do, too. It’s obvious by the number of people that come and enjoy the golf course. It’s fun for our members. It’s fun for the hotel guests. And, of course, I’m getting a very positive reaction from the people who are coming though and staying in the hotel and playing the golf course.

How much golf do you play these days?
I play, but not very often any more. My game has really kind of gone away. I guess it comes with my age, but it’s fun. It’s fun to go out on occasion and be able to play the golf course and play with my friends, and that’s about all the golf I play anymore.

How often are you able to shoot your age?
As I get older and older that becomes a little easier. I always thought it would be very easy, but I can assure you it’s not.

How old were you when you first shot your age?
I think it was in a practice round when I was 65, but officially I shot 66 on my 66th birthday in a tournament in Washington on the Senior Tour.

I understand you’ve been working more closely with your grandson, Sam, lately as he makes the transition into the PGA Tour. What sort of Tour life advice have you given him?
I’m just trying to bring him up to speed on what to expect by playing the Tour and how to treat it, and he’s done very well. I’m very proud of Sam and his golf and, of course, we’ll look forward to increasing his role as a Tour player.

Is he going to play your event?
He is. He will be one of my sponsor’s exemptions.

I might get in trouble for mentioning this, but with Sam’s T-17 finish at the Honda Classic he earned $68,000, which is more than you earned in any single event during your career. I’m curious to know if you’re going to send him a bill for your instruction to balance that out a little bit.
Well, actually I may charge him, but I haven’t decided on that yet. (Laughs) But, if he keeps making money the way he is, instead of my sponsoring him, he’ll be sponsoring me.
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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

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.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.


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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.