Palmer to be Honorary Starter at Masters

By Associated PressApril 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Time to muster Arnie's Army again, this time for a very short walk.
 
Arnold Palmer, the four-time Masters champion who played for the 50th and final time three years ago, will hit the opening tee shot Thursday and become the seventh honorary starter in tournament history.
 
'The time has come,' Palmer said Tuesday. 'I think all of you know what Augusta means to me.'
 
Palmer was the dominant player of the 1960s, winning seven major championships. But it was his personality that altered the game forever -- and never was it more evident than at Augusta National.
 
He would visit with fans in the gallery as he played, making them feel as if they knew him personally. When fans applauded, he'd look them in the eye and wave. He was their friend and their idol, the guy next door and the competitor they dreamed of being.
 
Back in the '50s, soldiers at nearby Fort Gordon would use their vacation to volunteer at the Masters, and they always pulled for Palmer.
 
'That's where the original `Arnie's Army' came from. They said, `We are soldiers in Arnie's Army,'' Palmer said. 'That's when the signs started.'
 
His fans came to Augusta armed with signs touting their loyalty, and the trend spread quickly to other tournaments where Palmer played. Soon enough, though, the PGA TOUR and Augusta National put a stop to it.
 
'The PGA TOUR and Augusta jointly said, `Hey, no more signs,'' Palmer said. 'It was getting obnoxious. There were so many signs and they were holding them up.'
 
The signs may have disappeared, but the affection for Palmer never waned. Anytime he teed it up at Augusta, hundreds lined up to greet him. They followed him around the course, cheering his every move, and it hardly mattered if he finished at the top of the leaderboard or near the bottom.
 
Now 77, Palmer last made the cut in 1983. When Augusta National gave some aging champions the not-so-subtle message that they should stop playing, Palmer said the 2002 Masters would be his last.
 
The Masters softened its stance, though, and Palmer did, too. He decided 2004 -- his 50th anniversary at Augusta -- was the perfect time to leave.
 
But when it was suggested he become an honorary starter, Palmer would have none of it. He was a star, not a warm-up act.
 
'I didn't want to jump the gun and do it too early,' he said. 'It was a hard one to stop playing. And I knew I should. It wasn't a question of continuing for any reason other than pride, I suppose. When I quit, I just wanted to think about not playing in the Masters and get over that, and then I would be ready (to be an honorary starter.)
 
'And I'm ready.'
 
He dropped hints last month at Bay Hill that he would seriously consider it under new chairman Billy Payne, and Payne didn't hesitate to sign him up.
 
'We are absolutely delighted that Arnold Palmer will once again be on the first tee at Augusta, a place where he belongs,' Payne said.
 
Celebrating past champions is as much a part of the fabric of the Masters as the green jackets they wear.
 
Palmer got his first invite to Augusta after winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur title, and he was paired that very first day with Gene Sarazen. Palmer was only 25 then, and playing with The Squire made an impact on him that resonates to this day.
 
'It was a day that I will always remember,' Palmer said. 'As soon as we talked about being honorary starter, that first day that I ever played here was something that came straight to my mind.'
 
Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod were the first honorary starters in 1963. Byron Nelson and Sarazen started doing it in 1981, with Ken Venturi filling in for Nelson for one year in 1983. Sam Snead joined Nelson and Sarazen in 1984.
 
Snead in 2002 was the last honorary starter; he died a month later.
 
Asked on Tuesday if this will become a tradition, Palmer said he'd have to ask Payne. The words were barely out of Palmer's mouth when Payne leaned forward and emphatically said, 'Yes.'
 
Palmer's great rival at Augusta, Jack Nicklaus, stopped playing the Masters in 2005. Another friendly foe, Gary Player, will tie Palmer's record this year with his 50th appearance, and hopes to make it 51 next year.
 
Golf fans everywhere would cherish the opportunity to see the three together at Augusta once again, even if it were only for one shot. But don't ask Palmer to arrange that tee time.
 
'To let them join me? Or to tell them to stay the hell away?' he said, drawing loud laughs. 'Hey, they don't call me when they want to do something. I'm not going to call them.'
 
Simply talking about the Masters on Tuesday was enough to make Palmer a little wistful, and he knows the emotions will be much, much greater when he steps inside the ropes a bit before 8 a.m. Thursday. So many of The King's best memories are here, wrapped up in the azaleas and the whispering pines.
 
So what happens if he rips one down the middle? Would he be tempted to keep going?
 
Palmer grinned.
 
'I'm not too smart, but I'm not stupid,' he said. 'I think I'll just let it go, wherever it goes.'
 
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    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

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    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''