Hooks & Cuts: Arnie, DJ and the Florida swing

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We're halfway through the Florida swing, with this week's stop at Innisbrook and the conclusion at Bay Hill up ahead. Speaking of Arnold Palmer ...

• “Arnie and Me” premieres Tuesday, March 17 at 10 ET. I’ve been fortunate to have been in Arnie’s company numerous times and I’m always struck not by his immense presence, but by how present he always is. I sat next to him at the Ouimet Foundation banquet a couple of years ago. Our table was roped off because Arnold to golf fans is like Jagger to boomer rockers. People gawked and gazed, many holding flags or hats in hopes that he would sign them. He waved for the guards to pass the items up and sign he did. Meanwhile, the salads were served, but I couldn’t find the dressing. I looked to my left and as I turned back, Arnold, with a smile and the soft eyes of a grandfather, handed me the dressing. I hadn’t said a word. While taking care of all the people who wanted just an acknowledgement, he took care of the person next to him who was looking for the balsamic vinaigrette. It was a small moment, but one I won’t ever forget. Arnold was present in the sweetest way. He always has been.

Tiger Woods hates embarrassment and humiliation, and will not, I suspect, play Augusta National if there’s any risk of that.

Dustin Johnson’s 317-yard tracer on the 72nd hole at the Blue Monster with a one-shot lead was reminiscent of Angel Cabrera’s clutch drive on final hole at Oakmont on his way to winning the 2007 U.S. Open. Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo and I were watching in our production trailer and as former pros, they’re not easily impressed. But they were both stunned, yelling something to the effect of “holy schnaps” when the tee ball cleared the water. Usually, the deciding moments happen on the putting green. When it’s with a full-throttle driver, it’s electric.

•Seven holes into the final round at Trump National Doral, Bubba Watson was blowing our minds. There’s nothing he cannot do. He’s a golf savant. But he’s also, for lack of a better word, slightly tweaked, a bit nervy and negative at times. And yet, he’s the likely Masters favorite and one major away from sewing up a future spot in the Hall of Fame.

Adam Scott putted well un-anchored. The real test comes at the Masters. 

•Dustin’s friend, Colt Knost, warmed up next to DJ at Pebble. “It’s embarrassing to hit driver next to him,” said Knost. “He’s one of the few players that other guys will stop to watch. He’s that good. He’s a freak. If he gets really good from 150 yards and in, look out.”

•Your average 10 handicap playing Doral at 7,200 yards into a 20-mile an hour wind would struggle to break 100.  

Curt Byrum said J.B. Holmes is country strong, to which Brandel replied, “He’s the kind of guy who could get a washin’ machine up a couple flights of stairs by himself.”

•Nice guy Rory McIlroy gets nice guy treatment from the press. So much comes down to, not whether or not we make mistakes – because we will – but how we handle them.

•Snake Pit, Blue Monster, Bear Trap. I’m quite happy playing less sinister stretches like Platypus’ Bill and Aardvark’s Snout. 

Patrick Reed and Johnson have outrun youthful transgressions to become high-level professionals. Raise your hand if you were mistake-free and fully developed in your 20s.

•From “The Apprentice” to Miss Universe, Donald Trump’s a star maker. But a 3-iron? The Donald rescued another distressed property.