People Adore Arnie No Matter What He Shoots

By George WhiteJanuary 21, 2002, 5:00 pm
Maybe Arnold Palmer still doesnt understand what all the fuss is about. He knows, inwardly, that he is a true icon to people everywhere. He has a sense that, solely because of him, people come to golf tournaments in which he is to appear - and will follow none other. If he shoots 90 instead of 70, the more the better. That just means that people get to see that crazy loopy swing 20 more times.
 
What he doesnt seem to understand is that he wont get much better than he is now, and thats because a 72-year-old cant do anything a 30-year-old can except snore and read good books. I say Arnold doesnt understand, because last week when he answered the medias questions during a teleconference, he was still talking about improving the scorecard. Its as if he could just get about five or 10 more yards out of the ol buggy-whip swing, it would be 1960 all over again and he would be winning eight tournaments.
 
People dont care that Arnold wont win again. They know he is the best 72-year-old golfer there is alive, but that isnt why they come. They come because they still want to see him, watch that wind-up and that one-of-kind whack at the ball. But they come most of all just because they want to see HIM. Who cares if he shoots 85, 95 or 120? Hes still Arnie.
 
He only plans to play in the Senior Skins this weekend, the Bob Hope which just finished, and the Masters. Why? Well, because he is afraid of embarrassing himself if the game doesnt improve.
 
Everything else depends on how my game comes together, he said. If the things I am working here at the Tradition - if I get my game in shape - I will play more.
 
Unfortunately, thats not the point. Where else can people go to see Palmer in person for four hours? Hell hit a few good shots, make one or two long putts, and the people will just swoon. They honestly believe that watching Palmer swing a golf club is the essence of golf. No, thats not right ' people feel its the essence of life. Nothing on the planet can make a person feel more like living than a few hours spent with Arnie.
Why is Arnold practicing? Well, somewhere theres a shootout going on that just might need another player. I want to play more, he says, and there isnt any joint in his body that aches too much for him to bump it around a little.
 
It wouldnt be Arnie, however, if he wasnt tinkering with some facet of his swing. One of the things is that I hit too far away from the ball, he said. One of the things we are working on is standing up straighter.
 
That, he is sure, will cause the distance to come back. He will be hitting shorter irons into the greens. And ' oh yes ' lately hes been collapsing into the ball on my irons and not hitting them as crisply as I would like. I dont need to hit my irons longer ' just better.
 
The same can be said of every recreational golfer who ever played the game. They dont need to hit the ball longer ' just better. But golfers can learn something by watching Palmer play golf. Most people are thrilled just to be watching HIM.
 
Hes a professional, and if you are really a pro, you want to play like one when youre in competition. People understand that. Regardless of how much they adore him, Arnie wants to play decent golf. And he wants to do it on a professionals standards, on golf courses set up for todays tournaments. He probably wont win ' I say probably because I understand nothing is impossible when you believe as strongly as Arnold does.
 
I hope, however, that Arnold wont fold em up and go play in just the Wednesday Bay Hill Shootouts. His psyche has been taking some body blows since he last won a tournament in 1988. The scores of last year really hurt. Slowly, ever so slowly, the man has been slowing down, step by step be step.
 
My positive attitude has taken a hit from the shots Ive had, Palmer said. But Ive been working out consistently over the years. And Im intensifying it this year.
 
Dare we whisper that most men have settled down long before their 72nd birthdays? But Arnie hasnt ' he still working out. The calendar may say 72, but he still thinks hes that guy whos 30.
Getty Images

Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

Getty Images

Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

<
Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”