With Arnold Palmer turning 80 on Thursday, his wit and wisdom help frame the storylines for the week ahead.
Memory won’t serve Woods this week“Putting is like wisdom, partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.” – Arnold Palmer
Tiger Woods likes familiar places.
He’s comfortable with what he knows and doesn’t like to wander into unfamiliar golf territory very often.
It’s why his schedule looks so much the same every year and why he wins so many times on the courses he knows best.
That’s why he couldn’t have liked hearing that Rees Jones renovated the greens at Cog Hill outside Chicago, home to this week’s BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Woods has won four PGA Tour events there and will be looking to win a fifth to regain his spot atop the FedEx Cup points standings a week after Steve Stricker seized it from him.
Woods putts best when he can putt from memory.
His memory’s been erased this week.
“They are totally different greens,” said Luke Donald, who lives in the Chicago area and played the course two weeks ago. “Nothing is the same.”
Donald said the greens have been rebuilt with distinctive sections, with undulations that must be navigated putting from one section to another.
“If you’re on the right plateau, it’s flat,” Donald said. “If you’re not, you’ll have a few ridges to putt over.”
Mark Wilson, who also lives in the Chicago area, said the greens are dramatically different.
“The greens are much more difficult,” he said. “They are more undulating than what I would have liked. The ninth green is a crazy green. The greens will be a huge factor.”
Woods struggled with the greens at The Barclays in the first week of the Playoffs.
Stricker should feel at home in Chicago
“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character.” – Arnold Palmer
Stricker should get an enthusiastic welcome when he tees it up as the new No. 1 atop the FedEx Cup points standings at the BMW Championship at Cog Hill outside Chicago this week.
Stricker played at the University of Illinois.
Plus, he’s from Edgerton, Wis., less than a three-hour drive from Cog Hill.
“They’ve changed it now so no one is really familiar with it, but I did win there back in ’96,” Stricker said. “I’m very excited about going there. I imagine I’ll be paired with Tiger again, which is always a lot of fun. I’ll have a big following there. I’m close to home, and I went to school at the University of Illinois, so I’ll be double dipping from both States. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully I can keep my good play going.”
No. 1 vs. No. 2 head-to-head in the playoffs
“I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.” – Arnold Palmer
A plus in the FedEx Cup playoffs is that players share tee times in the first two rounds with the players closest to them in the point standings.
That means No. 1 Stricker and No. 2 Woods will be in the same grouping for the fifth and sixth times in these playoffs. No. 3 Heath Slocum will join them again on Thursday and Friday at Cog Hill.
Stricker is cumulatively five shots better than Woods in their four groupings together in these playoffs.
Here’s how Stricker and Woods have fared in first two rounds at The Barclays and the first two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship:
Stricker 69 70 63 72
Woods 70 72 70 67
The cruel, final cut awaits
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening, and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind ever invented.” – Arnold Palmer
By virtue of his holding the 30th spot in the FedEx Cup point standings, Ian Poulter is the bubble boy this week at the BMW Championship.
The field of 70 will be trimmed to 30 for the Tour Championship.
Poulter is among 30 players at Cog Hill who have never played in the Tour Championship. Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey, Brian Gay, Paul Goydos and Mark Wilson also will be among those seeking to lock up their first trips to the Tour Championship.
Chad Campbell, who has played in the Tour Championship before, has the most work to do to advance to East Lake in Atlanta. He claimed the 70th and final spot into the BMW Championship.
An American drought continues
“I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me.” – Arnold Palmer
International players will be looking to extend their winning streak in LPGA events to 12 consecutive when the P&G Beauty Northwest Arkansas Championship is played Friday through Sunday at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark.
With Norway’s Suzann Pettersen winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open Sunday, 17 weeks have passed since an American has won.
Before this year, Americans had never gone more than 10 consecutive LPGA events in a season without winning since the LPGA was formed in 1950.
Cristie Kerr is the last American to win this year, claiming the Michelob Ultra Open in May.
An Amateur tradition continues
“What other people may find in poetry, I find in the flight of a good drive.” – Arnold Palmer
The Americans lead 33-7-1 in their Walker Cup competition against Great Britain & Ireland, but it’s not as lopsided as it seems.
While the Americans will be going for their third consecutive victory against Great Britain & Ireland when the matches are staged Saturday and Sunday at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., GB&I has claimed three of the last five and four of the last seven competitions.