ORLANDO, Fla. – In a St. Patrick’s Day edition, the PGA Tour returns to Arnie’s place for a party befitting a King, the membership at Muirfield guarantees the Open party will return to the East Lothian coast with a long-overdue vote and Cody Gribble goes full animal house at Bay Hill.
Fit for a King. From the new statue adjacent to the first tee at Bay Hill, to Wednesday’s opening ceremony, which included an impressive display of some 70 Tour players teeing off in succession, the first Arnold Palmer Invitational without the King has touched all the right notes.
The goal of organizers was to not make this week’s event another memorial for Palmer, who passed away in September, but instead a celebration of a truly remarkable life.
The ceremonies and attention to detail, including Palmer’s golf cart parked adjacent to the 16th green, have been impressive, but what has really made the week special are the stories – so many stories.
“I was fortunate and honored that Mr. Palmer even knew my name, because I didn't play in his generation,” Lucas Glover said. “But every time I came here, he knew my name and was respectful to me and I returned that favor. And all of us out here owe a lot to that man and I'm honored to be here this week and every week we get to come here.”
The 2017 API has been a celebration, not a funeral. Just the way Palmer would have wanted it.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Second time’s a charm. The membership of Muirfield voted to allow female members this week, a move that failed to pass last year.
The vote was followed quickly by news that the R&A would allow Muirfield back into the rotation to host The Open, which was not a surprise given the club’s history with the championship and how highly regarded the layout is among some competitors.
That it took two votes for the club to allow female members, however, didn’t sit well with everyone, most notably Rory McIlroy.
“In this day and age, where you've got women that are the leaders of certain industries and women that are heads of state and not to be able to join a golf course? I mean, it's obscene,” McIlroy said. “I still think that it got to the stage, this stage, is horrendous. We'll go back and we'll play The Open, because they will let women members in, but every time I go to Muirfield now I won't have a great taste in my mouth.”
Good news, bad news. News this week that Tiger Woods is healthy enough to travel was encouraging given the last update on the 14-time major champion’s health, but we still aren’t sure how close he may be to actually playing Tour golf again.
Woods will be at a Barnes & Noble in New York City on Monday for a book signing involving his new novel on the 1997 Masters, but there was no update on whether he’ll be healthy enough to play next month’s Masters.
He withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year, skipped the Genesis Open, which he hosts, and this week’s stop at Bay Hill, which he’s won eight times, with an ailing back. So the fact that he’s healthy enough to travel to New York City should be considered progress of sorts, but it doesn’t exactly fill Cut Line with optimism.
Tweet of the week: @bowdo83 (Steven Bowditch) “Watching @PGATOURLIVE is a great way to see where I should attack my par putts from. #kidsdoyourhomework”
It’s not been an easy few months for the Australian, who has missed the cut in 15 of his last 16 starts, but it’s refreshingly endearing that Bowditch has chosen to take the glass-half-full approach.
Gator tails. Cody Gribble didn’t know he was on camera, nor was he trying to become an Internet sensation, but it’s not often a Tour event devolves into an episode of Man vs. Gator, so the attention is understandable.
Gribble was strolling down the sixth fairway on Thursday at Bay Hill when he came upon an 8-foot alligator resting on the edge of a pond and gave the gator a tap on the tail.
“The gator looked like he needed some exercise, I don't know. But he was sitting right there in the way and, you know, I guess I was trying to get some adrenaline going somehow, but I wasn't really afraid of it,” he said.
Gribble said he’s had similar exchanges with alligators on the golf course. He even said he’s caught one before, but they’ve never been quick enough to get a clean bite at him.
While that kind of quick reaction is admirable and Gribble is by all accounts one of the circuit’s genuine up-and-coming stars, it’s a commonly held notion that amateur golfers often copy what they see Tour players do on TV.
So consider this a public service announcement. Don’t try this at home. Please.
Tweet of the week II: @CodyGribble (Cody Gribble) “Gators need exercise too, no biggie guys.”