Players recollect memories of meeting the King

By Rex HoggardSeptember 10, 2009, 2:16 am
BMW Championship 2007 LogoLEMONT, Ill. – It was Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors, to say nothing of those 19 Grand Slam also-rans, that Tiger Woods famously had pinned to the wall of his boyhood home, and the duo create the perfect combination of clinical efficiency and competitive zeal.

Yet as the golf world prepares to celebrate its most endearing octogenarian the thought is unshakable, there would be no Jack Nicklaus, at least not the Jack we remember today, and perhaps no Tiger Woods without the original version – Arnold Palmer.

Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer
Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer share a smile. (Getty Images)
On Thursday Palmer turns 80 – which begs the question, what do you buy the legend that has his own plane, his own drink and enough bullet points on the resume to fill a phone book? Even some six decades after his first Tour victory, the King’s shadow may be a tad slump-shouldered but his influence on the modern professional is unmistakable.

Although the vast majority of today’s Tour pros don’t slash at the golf ball with the ferocity of a lumberjack, they don’t hitch up their paints and charge down fairways and, sadly, many don’t engage the public like Palmer did, but nearly all of the modern versions appreciate what he did for the game at the perfect crossroads of television and mass appeal. It’s in their eyes, like the birth of a child or first Tour victory, when you ask them to remember the first time they crossed paths with the legend.

“They were playing in Napa Valley (Calif.) and he invited me to dinner,” Woods recalled recently. “Well, the tab comes, I’m not going to say, hey, Arnold, it’s on me. He goes and picks up the tab like it’s no big deal. My (college) coach had to report me (to the NCAA) because that was a violation.”

Luckily, Palmer’s generosity didn’t cost Woods any eligibility, only $25 and some change. His endearing nature, however, is a common theme among those who have attempted to fill the King’s shoes both on and off the course.

Before he turned into the Tour’s post-season version of Derek Jeter, Steve Stricker was a little-known player with his wife on his bag. During the duo’s first stop at Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational in the early 1990s they stopped Palmer to thank him for inviting them to his event.

“It was like going to see your grandfather and listening to him tell stories about his past. It's a time my wife and I have never forgotten, just the two of us and Arnold Palmer and his personal assistant Doc Giffin in his office,” Stricker said. “We didn't know him, but he treated us like we were old friends. That's the way he's always been when I've seen him. He makes you feel very comfortable around him even though he's this golf icon.”

Nearly a decade later, Tour rookie Mark Wilson and his wife had a similar Palmer moment.

“She was walking up in the Bay Hill clubhouse trying to find a bathroom. She sees this gentleman from behind, and says, ‘Excuse me, sir, do you know where the bathrooms are?’ The man turns around, and it’s Arnold Palmer,” Wilson said. “She was just speechless. He was a true gentleman. He walked her over and showed her where to go and was as nice as could be.”

Although the swing has slowed over the years, his passion for the game has never diminished. While some modern Tour pros marvel at how the legend engaged the golf fan with his everyman appeal, others see a timeless passion that is unrivaled.

“I remember about eight years ago, he's digging through the trunk of his car, where he's got some different drivers and he's taking a look at them and feeling them out before the round to see what he wanted to use,” recalls Brett Quigley. “I know he's done that his whole career. I love that. He was about 73 years old then, and I loved that he was still into golf that much. I loved that he has that much passion about the game.”

Palmer has set the standard for how a professional should act, both on and off the golf course, since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, and he’s passed along his knowledge in that subtle type of way that only a seven-time major champion can.

During his first Masters in 1991 Phil Mickelson arranged a practice round with Palmer at Augusta National. After the round the two were walking toward the clubhouse when Palmer seized on the opportunity to teach a future major champion a lesson.

“Right here in 1961 I had a one-shot lead,” Mickelson remembers Palmer telling him. “I came over and shook somebody’s hand and he said, ‘congratulations.’ I never should have said thank you. I should have said it’s not over.”

Palmer lost the ’61 Masters to Gary Player, but the lesson seems apropos on his 80th birthday. With his journey far from over, those who followed Palmer’s trail-blazed path to the PGA Tour owe the man from Latrobe, Pa., a collective thank you.

Related Links:
  • Arnold Palmer: Celebrating his 80th birthday
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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.