Palmer an inspiration to U.S. and Euro sides

By Randall MellSeptember 27, 2016, 3:00 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – Arnold Palmer was an inspiration too immense to be claimed solely by the American team this week.

If the United States comes out in cardigan sweaters to honor Palmer’s memory in Friday’s start of the Ryder Cup, the Europeans ought to be outfitted in them, too. If Palmer umbrella logos are attached to American team bags, European bags ought to sport them, too.

Yes, Palmer was an American icon, but the King’s rule reached around the world.

If Palmer’s going to be honored this week, it shouldn’t be as motivation for the Americans to win.

That would seem crudely opportunistic, a distasteful attempt to use his death as a competitive advantage.

The Europeans ought to be as integrally involved in celebrating Palmer’s memory as the Americans, because he was just as important to them.

“Arnold Palmer was a global superstar,” European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke said. “He inspired people all over the world to take up golf.”

American captain Davis Love III sees that bigger picture. He appeared to be channeling his inner Arnold Palmer upon his arrival at Hazeltine Monday.

“These guys from the European team, they respected and loved Arnold and played in his golf tournament and lived in Orlando,” Love said. “They were under the same influence of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus . . . It’s going to be a different week for both sides.”

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The PGA is flying flags at half-staff at Hazeltine this week. The organization has plans to honor Palmer Friday with a video tribute and a moment of silence at the first tee before the matches begin. All credit to Love being out front on this, too. He wants the greater good of the game benefitted in any other plans to honor Palmer’s memory.

“Both of our teams want to honor the Palmer legacy in the same way,” Love said.

The best way for Americans and Europeans alike to remember Palmer this week is to play like hell to win, but honor the way Palmer valued sportsmanship in doing so.

What is sportsmanship? It’s an ancient Olympic ideal based on the idea that you honor your opponent because you’re striving for excellence together, pushing each other to get there. The word competition is based on the Latin word competere, which means to strive together. Really, sportsmanship is civility’s first cousin, something in such short supply today with the world run amok in political incivilities and social media boorishness.

“Manners are more important than laws,” British statesman Edmund Burke once wrote. “Upon them in great measure the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex and soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible  operation, like that of the air we breathe . . . They aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them.”

Palmer was big on manners.

For as much as we’ve heard about Palmer writing to congratulate winners over the years, he also liked to write letters to congratulate great acts of sportsmanship. He saw wins even in heartbreaking losses.

Back when this reporter was a local golf writer in South Florida in 2001, Palmer sent a letter to a local high school player heartbroken after volunteering that he signed an incorrect scorecard, costing his team a berth in the state championship. “You had to make a difficult decision with obviously damaging consequences, yet you made the right choice and you were able to walk away from the event with your head held high,” Palmer wrote. A year later, the boy won the state championship.

Palmer relished the patriotic nature of the Ryder Cup.

“I loved the Ryder Cup, because it simply wasn’t about playing for money,” he wrote in “A Golfers Life,” one of his autobiographies. “It was about playing for something far grander and more personal than income and money lists. It was all about playing for your country, your people, and therefore yourself, and it was pure joy to beat the best of Britain and Ireland in an honorable game almost as old as the Magna Carta.”

Palmer played on six American Ryder Cup teams (1961-63-65-67-71-73), never on a losing team. He captained two Ryder Cup teams, both of them winners (1963 and ’75) and was the last playing captain (’63). He was 22-8-2 in the event and still holds the American record for most matches won.

Palmer, though, didn’t win the undying respect of Europeans because of his Ryder Cup efforts. He won that rejuvenating The Open.

After winning the Masters and U.S. Open in 1960, Palmer flew to the Old Course at St. Andrews to make a run at a “Grand Slam” sweep of the majors. He did this at a time when most Americans skipped The Open. Though Palmer didn’t win that year, he would go on to win it in 1961 and ’62.

“Arnold persuaded all the other top guys to come over and play,” Clarke said.

Tony Jacklin says Palmer inspired Brits to make The Open a better championship.

“When he won The Open twice in a row, he really got the attention of the R&A,” Jacklin said. “The R&A sent a contingent over to the United States every year to see how they put on the Masters and the U.S. Open. Really, they raised the profile of The Open Championship, unbelievably, on the back of Arnold’s wins.”

It’s part of why Europeans are as thankful for Palmer as the Americans are.

"Arnie was a legend, was a great man," Sergio Garcia said. "He helped our game not only in the U.S., but all over the world. We also feel very sad for his loss and we miss him very much."

All of this would make a Palmer “thumbs up” a meaningful gesture among Europeans and Americans alike this week as a replacement for fist bumps and high fives.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry