Hook Cuts Arnie to Adam

By Rich LernerSeptember 9, 2009, 11:54 pm
  • Arnold Palmer, who turns 80 Thursday, came along at the perfect time. As if forged from the steel mills around which he grew up in Western Pennsylvania, Arnold embodied the can-do spirit of a nation ready to enjoy its hard-won freedom a decade after the Great War. He never, ever acted as if he was entitled to anything. He was always grateful. And no matter how much he earned, he came across as working class to the core. Has any athlete who has ever profited so handsomely from a game, looked more inclined to play it for free?

  • Steve Stricker would be my Player of the Year if he were to win one of the next two Playoff events and capture the FedEx Cup.  

  • Arnie turns 80, Jack Nicklaus 70, Tom Watson 60, Fred Couples 50, Phil Mickelson 40 and Sergio Garcia 30 all in the next year. When did Father Time suddenly get so damn impatient?

  • Greg Norman didn’t have many options with his Presidents Cup picks because guys like Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi have been playing so poorly. But Adam Scott is playing worse. At a time when few people believe in Scott, Norman stepped in and said, “I believe in you.” It was a nice gesture. The potential problem beyond Scott not performing well is the negative strain that could weave through the International team from the start of the week. The press will be asking Scott and Norman and the other Aussies, ‘What’s wrong with Adam? Why hasn’t he lived up to expectations?’ That’s just not a good vibe to introduce.
  • My father opened a par-3 course, a driving range and miniature golf course in Allentown, Pa., in the mid-1950s. He and his partners approached a budding star, also from the Keystone State, in hopes that the new venture could be called the Arnold Palmer Golf Center. When my dad found out the asking price, Dorneyville Golf Center was born, named for the borough on the outer edges of town. Business was slow in the early days. “It was the first fully-lighted cemetery in America,” my dad jokes. Eventually, though, it became a fixture in the Lehigh Valley area.

  • Christina Kim posing almost nude in “ESPN The Magazine” has people wondering if it’s good or bad for women’s golf. Can’t imagine with this move that she’ll convert the critics who thought she was over the top at the Solheim Cup. But Christina, quite comfortable in her own skin, will succeed where everyone else seems to have failed – in generating discussion about the LPGA.  

  • Arnie and Jack will hit the ceremonial first tee shots at the Masters next April. That’s the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the same stage.

  • Tiger Woods is not as dominant as he once was – not as lethal with his putter, not as long with his tee ball. But I remain convinced we will still see another blistering run from him in the next two years.  

  • Never forget driving into a Champions Tour event maybe 20 years ago at Chester Valley outside Philadelphia. In the parking lot I could see from a distance a man standing at an open trunk, pulling clubs to get a feel. He looked like any guy at any muni trying to find a little something to take from the car to the course. I pulled closer. It was Arnold Palmer, the all-time everyman.

  • What a disappointing year for not only Adam Scott, but Garcia, Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas as well. Not a single victory among the four is almost absurd. How do you explain it? Lost love, poor putting and lack of focus? I’m not sure you can even call them with any conviction the best young players in the game any longer. Lucas Glover, Sean O’Hair, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy were all better this year; though, one year, to be fair, is just a snapshot.

  • Palmer came to my hometown in the early ‘60s for an exhibition with Gary Player. They teed it up at Allentown Municipal, long enough by the standards of that era to be called the “Monster.” Palmer shot 13-under 60. The headline in the paper the next day read, “The Monster is Dead.” Arnie remembers it to this day.

  • Mentioned the Beatles and the Stones. Golfers we know grow old. But rock legends? Mick Jagger’s 66 and Paul McCartney’s 67. Think they’ll be playing to a sold out Giants’ Stadium when they’re 75? Will Keith Richards outlive them all?
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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.