Big 3 put on a show in exhibition round

By Associated PressMay 6, 2012, 12:51 am

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Arnold Palmer curled in the 25-foot putt on the 18th hole, raised his right hand and acknowledged the massive, cheering gallery with a thumbs-up sign and his trademark smile.

Jack Nicklaus gave Palmer a hard handshake. Gary Player offered a pat on the back, a fitting end to a memorable day for the golf greats.

Nicklaus, Palmer, Player made up a threesome in a nostalgic, 18-hole exhibition round Saturday in conjunction with the second round of the Champions Tour's Insperity Championship.

Thousands lined the fairways at the Woodlands Country Club and several Champions Tour players joined the gallery to catch a rare glimpse of golf's ''Big 3'' playing together.

''We enjoyed it,'' Nicklaus said. ''We didn't make any bogeys, we made a few birdies and we hit a few nice shots and had a great time. And that's what this was all about.''

Lee Trevino played in the threesome ahead in the nine-man scramble. Miller Barber, Don January, David Graham, Gene Littler and Dave Stockton also participated.

But most of the estimated crowd of 40,000 came to see the Big 3, who hit the ceremonial opening tee shots together at the Masters for the first time this year.

This day was different, and even competitive. Naturally, Nicklaus, Palmer and player took home the biggest trophy, shooting 11-under par.

''We didn't make it too serious,'' Palmer said, ''but we didn't want to come in second, either.''

Before the round, Trevino lamented that he wasn't sure when the group would get to play together again. But Nicklaus, who said he hadn't played in public for six or seven years, said afterward that he was open to the idea.

''I'd do it again,'' Nicklaus said. ''I just don't play golf. I actually hit the ball pretty decently today. I putted very well, and I wouldn't have expected that.''

The event seemed to be a huge success, with young and old fans eagerly snapping photos and lining up for autographs between every hole. They were treated not only to entertaining, up-close banter with the players, but also some solid golf.

The 76-year-old Player, who says he routinely shoots six or seven shots below his age, dropped his approach to the par-4 11th hole within 2 feet, setting up one of the group's 11 birdies.

''We birdied the living daylights out of this golf course,'' Player said. ''The quality of golf was like when we were young.''

Palmer tapped in the short putt before Player and Nicklaus reached the green, and Palmer bent down and rolled the ball down a hill to Player's feet, drawing laughter from the crowd.

''We've got to hit it closer, guys!'' Palmer said, as the players boarded carts and headed for the next tee.

Just as they arrived, Trevino ripped a drive down the middle of the 12th fairway, drawing applause. The chatty Trevino turned to the crowd, raised his driver and cracked, ''I may auction this off when we're finished!''

There were also reminders of the days when the men ruled the game.

Driver in hand, Nicklaus walked up to the tee box on the par-5 13th hole and turned to the gallery.

''How long is this hole?'' Nicklaus asked.

''Five hundred yards,'' someone answered.

''Driver, wedge, Jack!'' someone else said.

''Ah, those were the good ol' days,'' Nicklaus said, before hitting a drive down the right side of the fairway.

Palmer, who retired from competitive golf during the Champions Tour event here in 2006, had his share of good shots and capped the day with the long birdie putt.

''I was so happy to see him do that,'' Player said. ''He got a little taste of what he did when he was young.''

Houston resident Steve Elkington, Ben Crenshaw, Andy Bean and Peter Jacobsen were among the former pros who joined the gallery to catch a peek at the game's greats back in their element.

''I love to see them,'' Crenshaw said. ''We can't thank them enough. They've done it all for us. I have been so fortunate to have spent so much time with them, not only playing, but being together. They've been a great part of my professional life.''

Crenshaw hopes this isn't the last time he sees them play together. Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Trevino all seemed enthusiastic about doing it again, too.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.

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Kaymer: Don't deserve Ryder Cup spot even with win

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:50 pm

Martin Kaymer is one of the most decorated Europeans of this generation, and one of the most thoughtfully honest as well, as he is demonstrating yet again at this week’s Nordea Masters.

Kaymer, a two-time major championship winner, has helped the Euros win three of the last four Ryder Cups. He won the singles match that clinched Europe’s historic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.

But with his run into contention Friday in Sweden, Kaymer told Sky Sports TV he didn’t believe that even a victory would make him worthy of playing for captain Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team in Paris next month.

“Do you think I deserve to be on the game after the way I've been playing, and with just one win in Sweden?” he said. “Is that enough? I don't think so.”

Kaymer shot a 3-under 67 at the Nordea Masters, leaving him tied for seventh, five shots off the lead and in position to make a run at his 12th European Tour title. He is hoping to capitalize on the opportunity in a season that has left him unsatisfied. He missed three of his previous four cuts coming to Sweden and has just two top-10 finishes this year.

Kaymer made some thoughtful observations about the nature of golf’s challenges in the same week that LPGA star Lexi Thompson opened up about a personal struggle to build a life about more than golf.

At 33, Kaymer said he feels as if he’s still just beginning to understand the game’s effect on him. Here is what he shared with reporters about that on the eve of the Nordea Masters:

“I'm on the seventh hole, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf.

Full-field scores from the Nordea Masters

“In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little.

“All of a sudden you win a major. You play a vital role in Ryder Cups. You win your second major. Then you need to adjust, because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. It cannot only be talent, you need to ask yourself how you actually got here.

“That realization took me a long time. That's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green.

“It's just understanding who you are, what you do, what kind of life you live. For example, when you try to have a relationship with anyone -- it doesn't matter what kind of relationship -- people see you not for who you are as a person but as the athlete, what you have, what kind of success you had.

“I never understood that, because I don't want to be treated that way, but I also understood by now that is who I am, because I am that athlete. I am the guy who makes a lot of money.

“I never wanted to be seen that way, because I was raised different, and I wanted to be normal. But you are not normal when you do what I did. It took me a long time to understand, but now I can handle it better.”

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S.H. Park eyes Indy title, LPGA awards after 'best round of year'

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

Sung Hyun Park’s hot finish Friday gives her more than a chance to win the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

It gives her a chance to keep Ariya Jutanugarn from running away with the LPGA’s most important awards and honors heading into the final third of the season.

Park’s 9-under 63 left her tied for the lead with Lizette Salas (69) at 13 under overall in the rain-suspended second round at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

“My best round of the year,” Park said through a translator.

Jutanugarn, the Rolex world No. 1, put up a 65 and sits four behind the leaders.

Park is No. 4 in the world rankings and feeling good about her weekend chances.

“I’m going to do really well,” she said. “I feel really good about my game.”

Jutanugarn has won an LPGA best three times this season, including the U.S. Women’s Open. She is dominating, statistically. She leads the tour in money winnings ($2,161,185), Rolex Player of the Year points, scoring average (69.44), putts per greens in regulation (1.72) and birdies (327).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Park is looking to equal Jutanugarn’s victory total for the season. Park won the Volunteers of America Texas Classic and also a major this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Park could overtake Jutanugarn as Rolex world No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Jutanugarn does this weekend.

Park shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last season, with Jutanugarn winning the award the year before.

Notably, Jutanugarn is giving her driver a rare appearance this week, putting it in her bag in both the first and second rounds at the friendly confines of Brickyard Crossing.

“I like the way [the holes] set up, because I’m ab le to hit driver a few holes,” Jutanugarn said. “I missed some, but I hit a few pretty good ones, too.”

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Podcast: Welcome our guest - Tiger Tracker

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

Host Will Gray calls him “The man, the myth, the legend.”

GCTiger Tracker, aka “TT,” makes his highly anticipated first guest appearance in a Golf Channel podcast, pontificating on everything from Tiger Woods’ run at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to the overall nature of Tiger’s comeback and what breakthroughs may lie ahead.

Tiger Tracker, Golf Channel’s mystery man, continues to rigorously protect his identity as the foremost Twitter tracker of all things Tiger, but he does open up on his intense relationship with his growing legion of followers and his “trigger finger” when it comes to blocking those unworthy of his insight.

“I’m more of a lover than a hater of Tiger Woods, but I’m a tracker,” TT tells Gray. “I call it like I see it.”

Tracker goes deep on what he sees as his role in continuing to document Tiger’s comeback, including a sense of kinship in this journey.

“I had 142,000 followers on the Monday of the Bahamas [late last year], and as we speak now, 296,000, more than double in that short span,” Tracker says. “That shows you what he’s been able to do, what we’ve been able to do together. Let’s be honest about that.”

Listen in below: