Palmer Player Together Again

By George WhiteNovember 11, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 UBS CupTheir pairing first became famous when they combined with Jack Nicklaus in the 1960s to form golfs Big Three. Barnstorming to various exotic locales across the planet, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Nicklaus were already the most popular golfers in the game.
It continued in the 70s with Palmers PGA Tour career winding down, but Player at five years younger continuing his excellence. In the 80s both were fixtures of the Champions Tour, where they produced some memorable duels. The 90s saw them both flourish in their respective golf design businesses, producing some of the most interesting courses on the planet.
From 2000 and beyond, though, they have emerged as friendly rivals in the UBS Cup. Theyve played each other, they have matched wits and strategies, but always they have put one thing above all else ' sportsmanship.
When I play against him and he plays against me, we try to beat each other, acknowledged Player. But we love each other as friends and we have been for all these years. We can be competitive and yet still be great friends. That, to me, is a sign of - well, I think it's just a wonderful thing.
Palmer was just as positive about Player. Gary is right with what he said. What Gary says about our relationship is on 100 percent, and I hope that will go on for as long as we live, he said.
Palmer has been the captain of the United States squad for all three years of the UBS Cup. Player has captained two with No. 3 slated to unreel Friday. Tony Jacklin captained the Rest of the World team last year.
Player and his Rest of the World squad had the upper hand in the inaugural meeting, leading in seven of the 12 singles matches, before a big U.S. rally for a 12 - 11 win. The U.S. successfully defended in 2002, 14 - 9 1/2, before the two teams battled to a 12-12 draw last year.
This event has engendered some wonderful competition among the world's finest players, said Palmer.
Player agreed. 'I love this kind of competition,' he said. 'With all countries participating, it will go a long way toward promoting golf around the world.
The two old rivals are getting up in years now ' Arnold turned 75 on Sept. 10 and Gary will be 69 on Nov. 1. And though they have been playing against each other for some 50 years, theyve always had a warm, close relationship. It is one born of admiration and mutual respect.
I've always enjoyed playing against Arnold, said Player. We've been playing against each other for all of these years, and I think that we've had great respect for each other. The fact is that you're going to win and you're going to lose, and that's part of the game.
Its much more than just a professional rivalry between two men, however. What these two men have done is provide a model for the entire golfing world to follow, with the sport being the big winner. Player made note of Samuel Ryder, who was instrumental in getting the Ryder Cup off the ground, in commenting on the nature of the USB Cup rivalries.
If you read carefully at what his original statement was ' A match between two great countries played in the true spirit,' said Player. I'm sure that Arnold would endorse this, having been the gentleman that he has, that we want to just see this take place.
If you lose, have a smile on your face. If you win, have a smile on your face.
And Palmer does indeed agree.
The fellowship and all the other things that go along with playing golf is what we're trying to make an example of, he said. I think that everyone should know that.
And certainly that does not mean that you can't be competitive. Any one of my guys, I think they would all be competitive - but they would be gentlemen. That's the example that we're trying to set. It's an example that we need to set in the world today.
I feel very strongly about that. And you just heard Gary, that's exactly what he has said.
At this time in history, what with the U.S. involved in a military action in the Middle East and the world bubbling with turmoil on several fronts, both men strongly endorse a competition that brings together participants from around the globe.
We're trying to create goodwill, said Arnie. We're not trying to create a problem between the world and the United States or countries in the world.
I don't know of any of these players that are angry with anyone else. It doesn't matter whose team they're on.
That is the spirit under which the UBS Cup is played. Two men, two teams, and one goal ' the best in sportsmanship that golf can offer.
Related Links:
  • UBS Cup - Full Coverage
  • Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

    Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.