Notes Fore Please Arnold Palmer


The host of this weeks Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard engaged the media Wednesday at Bay Hill. And he made news.
For starters, he said he might become the honorary starter at the Masters Tournament. And he didn't rule out the possibility of that happening this year. 'I'm giving it some very careful consideration,' he said.
Palmer also said he is not married to the two significant changes he made this year'switching Nos. 4 and 16 to par-4s'for the future.
Is that (the changes) something were going to hang with in the future? he said. I cant really tell you that. We think it might add a little spice to the tournament (this year).'
Palmer pointed out that both the fourth and 16th holes used to be par-4s before being converted to par-5s. Palmer also said there will be physical changes to the par-4 third (move the tee) and par-5 sixth (move the green) that will take affect for the 2008 Bay Hill tournament.
Long-term, he also said, hed like to install a Sub-Air system under the greens for better drainage.
Tiger Woods has played Bay Hill 11 times and is a cumulative 82 under par in those appearances.
Interesting to note that 57 of those under par strokes have come on the fourth and 16th holes.
Henrik Stenson has rocketed to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking after winning at Dubai and the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Both those events included Tiger Woods in the field and suddenly Stenson finds himself on a very short list of favorites for next months Masters.
Earlier this week at Bay Hill, Stenson warned me against making book on him just yet. Ill be happy with a top 10, the powerful Swede said. And Im not ashamed to say that.
Last year was Stensons first Masters and, he says, he was fighting his swing at the time. As a result, he failed to make the cut.
Back on the subject of this years Masters, he added, There might be a better way to invest your life savings than on me. Stenson also said he has no plans to make an early trip to Augusta to scout the golf course. He said he will arrive the Sunday before the event.
The Honda Classic was an unqualified success at PGA National two weeks ago except for the matter of the security problems that stemmed from spectators'some of them with cameras'gaining access to the course through the homes of on-course residents.
Bay Hill is also mostly surrounded by homes. But tournament director Scott Wellington has told me Bay Hill homeowners are aware their guests must have tickets to enter the tournament grounds.
If they dont, he said, there are Orange County Sheriffs officers'on bicycles'to enforce the rules.
There had been speculation in some quarters that Jerry Chang, one of Woods very best friends, might be in line to become the tournament director at the newly-minted AT&T National.
Greg McLaughlin, president of the Tiger Woods Foundation, will serve as the interim tournament director until the position is filled full time.
When I asked McLaughlin about Chang he said he doubted he could pay Chang the kind of money Chang is currently earning in his current occupation as an investment banker in California for Morgan Stanley.
Its no secret how much Ernie Els, 37, wants to win the Masters before he retires. So far, Els has won two U.S. Opens and on British Open.
Asked Tuesday if he would trade his two U.S. Opens for one Green Jacket, Els didnt hesitate.
No, he said. I worked too hard for those two (U.S. Opens).'
Asked if he had a favorite Arnold Palmer moment, defending champion Rod Pampling said, Him handing me the trophy last year.
Since Tiger Woods won his last U.S. Amateur in 1996 several winners of that event have failed to live up to certain peoples expectations. To name a few: David Gossett, Hank Kuehne, Matt Kuchar.
Jeff Quinney, also a former U.S. Amateur champion, is having the best year of his career. Quinney has made the cut in all seven events he has played in and has earned $975,805 which puts him 14th on the PGA TOUR money list. He also ranks 13th in the FedExCup points standings and has four top 10 finishes.
For his part, Quinney doesnt totally buy into the Curse of the U.S. Amateur theory.
There is kind of a misconception that (winning the U.S. Amateur) guarantees your TOUR card or so many starts. You still have to get the sponsor invites and go through Q-school just like everybody else. It (the U.S. Amateur) is a big tournament but its no different than, like, the NCAA or anything like that. Its just as tough to win as one of those.
I dont think everyone has struggled.... Obviously, they are not all top 20 in the world maybe right now, but they have all done pretty good. Its just something youre just proud to be a club to.
Obviously, its not guaranteed success out here, but you know its a pretty proud achievement we all hold on to.
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