Palmer's passing stirs vivid memories of the King

By Brandel ChambleeDecember 19, 2016, 1:05 pm

A century passes and depending on one’s age, maybe 10 years are so indelibly marked that the mere utterance of the number brings to mind an event. 1961: Roger Maris hits 61 home runs. 1974: Richard Nixon resigns. 1945: World War II ends. You know those connections instantly. 2016 was that kind of year. The King died.

Once in a great while the future can be foreseen. When Tiger won the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, no one doubted that the history books were about to get dented up. But mostly, clairvoyance is impossible. Nobody could’ve predicted Arnold Palmer’s popularity.

Sure he was handsome and muscular, but so was Frank Stranahan. Arnold won often enough, eight times each in 1960 and 1962, but Byron Nelson won 18 tournaments, including those 11 in a row, in 1945. Sam Snead won 10 times in 1950 and even Paul Runyan won nine times in 1933. Arnold had a great come-from-behind win at the U.S. Open in 1960 when he started the final round seven shots back, shot 65 and won. But just the year before, Bob Rosburg had won the PGA Championship from six back with 18 to play, and in 1950 Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open after having been near death from a 1949 head-on collision with a bus.

It wasn’t any one thing that made Arnold Palmer the King, it was everything. He was handsome and muscular. He won often, and in dramatic ways that would bring the crowd to a whirling mass of astonishment. He lost, too, and his knees would buckle and his body would contort in some kabuki pose of self-chastisement. It was as if he were the home team of every city in America and they had just lost the big game and an entire country's worth of fans threw their arms in the air and screamed at the TV over the inequity.

Sports may just be about entertainment, but in an ideal way - OK, maybe in a romantic way - we want it to convey values, too. We don’t need our sports stars to be worthy of our admiration - think of Kobe Bryant or Ty Cobb - but it would be nice if they were. There was an integrity to the way Arnold Palmer played golf and a humility to the way he interacted with sports fans and members of the media. He was unfailingly polite and generous with his time, time and time again.

Great golfers have a kinesthetic sense, where they are able to match themselves to the landscape, simultaneously matching themselves to the weather conditions and to the topography that their ball must traverse in flight and upon landing. Arnold Palmer had this, but in the exact same way he could sense the appropriate way to talk to an individual and to handle himself in any situation.

Such was his gift of charisma that his popularity wasn’t just specific to the knowledgable sports fan. Sports nuts and those who didn’t follow sports knew him equally. Nor was his appeal dependent upon one’s demographic or nationality. He was universally loved by the man who worked with his hands, by scientists, politicians and generals, artists and the biggest stars in Hollywood. 

In the summer of 1981 I went to Great Britain to play golf. One day, while playing at Carnoustie, I was paired with an artist by the name of Harold Riley. Some 21 years before that summer, Harold had been sent to St. Andrews to sketch some pictures of an American who had won the 1960 U.S. Open and the Masters. There was Grand Slam talk for the first time since Bobby Jones, 1930. Arnold Palmer had never played The Open and Harold Riley had never seen the man he was to paint.

Exiting the train at St. Andrews, Harold went for a walk across the links, sketching the landscape and people as they crisscrossed the fairways. One man drew his attention for the way he moved. For the way he drew on that Salem cigarette as if it were his muse. For the way he slashed at the ball and cocked his head and the way he strode from hole to hole through the peloton of patrons. It turned out to be Arnold Palmer.

As the week went by Harold Riley painted and sketched the man who would be King many times over. In one scene Palmer was leaning on his putter as he waited for his turn to play with that Salem cigarette, giving off a thin line of smoke, hanging from his mouth. In another he was somewhere in the finish of his swing, with turf and dirt and sinew flying everywhere.

Over the years as I got to know Harold his popularity grew (he painted presidents and popes)  and he made a gift of many paintings to me. One of them is a pencil sketch of Palmer at St. Andrews in 1960, where he finished second to Kel Nagle. Palmer has his legs crossed, is leaning on his putter and wearing a cardigan sweater, the last button left fashionably undone. He is staring off at something he needed to figure out, caught perfectly in the vacuum of competition.

In 1983, I made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles to play Riviera. There I ran into a group of men who were laughing and wisecracking and playing fast off the 18th tee. One of them was the head of Columbia pictures, another was one of the men who produced "All in the Family." Bud Yorkin was his name, as I recall. Another, who had a big Rolex watch on his wrist as he played, was a man by the name of Rudy Durand. After the round, I met them for drinks in the club. Somewhere in the course of that post-round banter, Rudy said, “Friendship is serious business,” and the look in his eyes when those words left his mouth, well, it made you want to be his friend. As the years went by, decades even, he became one of my best friends. Rudy was also best friends with one of the biggest movie stars of all time, Jack Nicholson.

I played a few rounds of golf at Riviera with Rudy and Jack and I found out, among the many things that Nicholson loved, he loved art, he loved golf ... and he loved Arnold Palmer. So a few years ago, when “The Colonel” as Rudy calls Jack, (after his iconic, “You can't handle the truth!!!” role as Colonel Jessup) in "A Few Good Men") turned 75 and Rudy and I were talking about what one gives to someone who has every material possession, every kind of professional admiration, for such a monumental birthday.

When I got back to my home in Scottsdale I boxed up the Harold Riley picture of Arnold Palmer and sent it to Rudy to give to Jack for his 75th birthday. A few days later, Rudy called and after the usual greeting of lovable insults, he told me Jack had said that the gift made him smile and made him cry.

Arnold Palmer could do that. He did it to us all.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

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Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”