Notes The King reminisces about the home of golf

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2010, 12:02 am

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Arnold Palmer gazed out the window from Russacks Hotel on Wednesday morning and felt the clock turn back a half century. He saw the people walking toward the Old Course, mowers preparing St. Andrews for practice, the expanse of a golf course with all its humps and mounds.

The King grew emotional talking about it later, and he had every right.

The British Open might not be what it is today without Palmer. The U.S. turned into a golfing power after World War II, yet few Americans bothered to play golf’s oldest championship – partly because links golf was foreign to them and the prize money couldn’t offset travel costs.

Palmer, who raised golf’s profile in his own country, was determined to play.

“I felt that if you were going to be a champion, you couldn’t be a champion without playing in the Open and hopefully winning the Open,” he said. “So that was part of the whole program for what I was doing.”

Palmer won the Masters and U.S. Open in 1960. On his way to St. Andrews for his first British Open, a conversation with sports writer Bob Drum led Palmer to effectively create the modern version of the Grand Slam.

He finished one shot behind Kel Nagle. Palmer won his claret jugs at Royal Birkdale in 1961 and Royal Troon in 1962.

Even so, St. Andrews remains a big part of his life. Palmer was given an honorary degree at St. Andrews University on Tuesday. The only disappointment was not getting to play in the “Champions’ Challenge” because of bad weather Wednesday.

That brought back memories, too.

“It’s normal,” he said, referring to the wind and rain. “In 1960 – that’s the one thing that’s the same – the weather was just like it is now on one of the days of that championship. The wind blew, it rained. I said something about it then, and got the same answer. ‘Hey, this is Scotland. You’ve got to expect it.’ And I loved it.”

The love affair continues.

Looking out his hotel window, he said, “I saw all the things that I saw and I thought about in 1960.

“I suppose most of the week when I came here the first time, I didn’t understand well enough to respect the kind of golf that I was going to have to play to do good in the Open Championship, whether it was here or somewhere else. I didn’t appreciate what I was playing on in 1960.

“It took me a while to begin to understand what this golf course and what European golf and what the links golf was really all about. So it was quite a thrill.”


CINK AND THE CLARET JUG: Stewart Cink returned the claret jug that he won last year at Turnberry, and he made sure it was clean. That took more work than it might have for other past champions.

The first drink poured from the jug was Guinness.

Then there was some fine wine for Cink and his wife, soda for his sons, even barbecue sauce. Turns out he used the jug to hold the sauce during a Fourth of July cookout at home in Georgia.

Cink has more than 1.2 million followers on Twitter, and he thinks that helped create the idea there was never a dull moment with golf’s oldest trophy.

“It was really busy for the first two months or so, and then it sat in the house different places, got moved around,” Cink said. “The kids decided where it went sometimes. I realize now how much attention it draws everywhere around the world. We definitely put it to good use, and it was an honor to be in possession of it.”

Cink thought it was clean when he loaded it up to bring to Ireland (last week) and Scotland. His friend cleaned out the barbecue sauce after the holiday.

“But when I went and put it in the case, I noticed on the flight over to Dublin that some of it leaked out,” he said. “So I went and investigated and found that there was still sauce inside that had to be cleaned out. I went and cleaned it in Dublin and got it nice and fresh and shined the outside. It was in fit condition when it went back.”


TIGER TALK: Top officials from the first two majors this year have criticized Tiger Woods.

That hasn’t been the case at the British Open – so far.

Masters chairman Billy Payne made news in April for publicly taking Woods to task for his rampant affairs and not fulfilling his responsibility as a role model. “It is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids,” Payne said. “Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.”

At the U.S. Open last month, USGA executive director David Fay chided Woods for complaining about the greens at Pebble Beach. Fay said Woods was wrong for saying the greens were awful, then tweaked him by adding, “I think two players used the word awful. Phil (Mickelson) said he putted awful. Tiger said the greens were awful.”

Royal and Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson has kept his thoughts to himself, saying only that he is glad Woods is playing and that he hopes he finds his game at St. Andrews.

Asked if he shared Payne’s sentiments, Dawson said: “Well, you notice we haven’t made such a statement. So I’ll just leave that one there.”

Pressed further, Dawson said, “I think Tiger regrets many of the things of the past and, as he’s said, he is trying to put them right. And I believe he is doing it and I believe he’s succeeding, actually.”


ROAD HOLE: The infamous Road Hole – No. 17 – is not what it was when players arrived at St. Andrews.

For one thing, the Royal and Ancient agreed that it was odd to have out-of-bounds stakes to the right of the 16th green, only for players to tee off on the 17th from about the same spot.

So, the out-of-bounds stakes are no longer there, effectively changing the boundaries on the Old Course.

And that’s not all.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson was surprised to see the grass get so lush and dense left of the fairway. Any tee shot that goes into that rough will make it virtually impossible for the next shot to reach the green.

On Wednesday, the R&A decided to mow about three yards into the rough, created a second cut, which might slow down a ball that is rolling into the thick stuff.

“The rough that thickened up in the last few days is a very unusual occurrence around here at this time of the year,” Dawson said. “It’s usually thinning out. So we’ve put that second cut in.”


TV DEAL: The Royal and Ancient has signed a new five-year deal with the BBC to broadcast the British Open through 2016.

Chief executive Peter Dawson often is asked why he doesn’t negotiate with a satellite broadcaster, such as Sky Sports, which might be more financially rewarding to the organization.

Dawson said he was satisfied with the deal, without getting into numbers, and considered it important to reach a greater audience in Britain with a traditional network.

“When you’re spending a large amount of the commercial success in the Open in developing the game, it’s hardly consistent to then show the Open to a restricted audience,” Dawson said.

This year’s championship will be the first to be broadcast in High Definition.


BETTER THAN HAGGIS? Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee may be a long way from home, but not from comfort food.

For several years now, the world’s 50th-ranked player has dined often enough at Nahm-Jim, a local Thai restaurant, to have a special named in his honor.

The “Thongchai Jaidee” is a two-person, three-course sampling of traditional dishes currently going for 24.95 pounds ( $38.21 USD). Considerably better tasting than haggis (sheep organs and oatmeal), the unofficial national dish of Scotland, the menu entry suggests any customer who eats the Jaidee special may soon be able to hit the golf ball as well as he does.

Getty Images

High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

Getty Images

Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

A post shared by ETPI (@etpi_performanceunit) on

Getty Images

Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match-play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the latter when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and [the championship] needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. The Wildcats were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed only to be inside the top eight after 72 holes to advance to the match-play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match-play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a hell of a ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, gnarly rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore missed her birdie putt and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite a while but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot - that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

Getty Images

Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.