Conversations with the King

By David Marr IiiFebruary 2, 2004, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Golf Channel's special presentation of 'Conversations with the King' premieres Tuesday Feb. 3 at 8:00 P.M. ET.
When I was scheduled to cover the opening of Arnold Palmers restaurant in La Quinta, California it gave me a pleasant familiar feeling. As a kid growing up around tour stops in the early 60s Arnold was more than just the most popular golfer of all time. He was like a favorite uncle, always giving that warm smile, never forgetting your name and sharing a few moments genuinely interested in your life. While our interaction has lessened over the years, its still the same easy connection.
I was assigned to put together a feature about the restaurant opening for Golf Central, including a quick talk with Arnold. When I got to the restaurant, I met Arnolds business partner, David Chapman. David is the sweat and the passion behind the restaurant. Hes also its heart. He told me a story about his first trip to Augusta as a preteen. The youngster immediately set out to find his hero and has followed every move since. Over the years hes become a virtual warehouse of all things Arnold. I have a sneaking suspicion that he opened the restaurant because he ran out of room for Palmerobilia, but thats a different story.
David gave me a tour of the restaurant, from the short par-3 hole out front to the 10,000 square foot putting green off of the main bar to the three rooms named after the Major Championships which Arnold captured. I knew my feature would have to be longer than the assigned three minutes. When Arnold arrived we chatted about The Golf Channel, each of our families and a number of different topics. Eventually we got to the business at hand. I had seen so many of the pictures in the restaurant before and heard all of the stories, but I wanted to have Arnold tell me a little about these artifacts which had become so familiar to me. He agreed to take me on a tour so we fired up the camera and got underway.
We began in the Open Championship room and talked about the origin of the term Grand Slam in relation to golf. He and Bob Drum used it on the way to the Open in 1960 after Arnold had won the Masters and U.S. Open that year. In bridge a Grand Slam is when a team wins all 13 tricks in a hand. Arnold was looking for all 4 professional majors and Grand Slam was far catchier than Impregnable Quadrilateral which is how sportswriters referred to Bobby Jones amateur sweep in 1930. He also chatted about his caddied Tip Anderson, his two victories in 1961 and 1962, and his final appearance in 1995. The Scots have always honored those who furthered their game, and no one did so more than Arnold. The admiration and respect was mutual.
After the Open Championship we stepped into the Masters room. There were two large pictures of the 1964 Masters, and since my dad played with him in the final round that year, we chatted about Arnolds final major championship victory. For the first time I heard him tell the story about his offer to help my father on the 72nd hole that year. Not that there was anything he could have done, but dad was battling Nicklaus for second and Arnolds offer must have certainly helped.
I wont ruin the story by telling you my fathers response, but it was priceless. We also talked about Arnolds win in 1958, his relationship with Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and the fun they all had at the Masters Club dinner. We glossed over his two memorable victories in 1960 and 1962, but since I had already shot 20 minutes of tape for a three minute feature, I figured it was time to get economical.
That lasted until we got to the U.S. Open room. Arnolds lone victory came in 1960 at Cherry Hills. He told the famous story about playing well but finding himself seven back on Saturday between the final two rounds. At lunch he was looking to Bob Drum for some sympathy, which would have been a first for the Drummer. Bob threw a typical line at him and Arnold stormed off, hit some practice balls and drove the first green on the way to a record tying 30 on the front nine.
After that story he began talking about U.S. Open losses. His take on the three Opens he lost in playoffs was very interesting, and something I hadnt heard him say before. He also told a story about making a late charge in 1973 at Oakmont. He was close to home, with the gallery on his side, looking to make up for the 1962 playoff loss to Jack Nicklaus when he came to the 12th green, looked at the leader board and saw that Johnny Miller had posted perhaps the greatest round in golf history. Millers 63 took the wind out of Arnolds sails in his last good chance at a U.S. Open title.
After the U.S. Open room we wandered around the restaurants other chambers. Arnold told me his thoughts about the U.S. Amateur, and whether it should still be considered a major. He chatted about the Ryder Cup and its importance to the game, his mothers influence on his career and his fear of flying, which led to his pursuit of a pilots license and aviation records.
In the end, my small Golf Central feature was turned into a thirty minute show thanks to Arnold sharing his time. About twenty more minutes ended up on the cutting room floor. It was a walk down memory lane for me, with a few insights Id never heard before. Im hoping it will be an interesting half hour for our viewers, spending time with one of the games true icons.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes - Conversations with the King
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    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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    Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

    Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

    The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

    “Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

    Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

    But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

    Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

    “It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

    There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

    It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

    “It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”