Arnies pride is his grandson

By Doug FergusonMarch 25, 2010, 5:03 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sam Saunders left college early to turn pro and wasn’t having much success, so he went back to his roots. He decided to seek out advice on his swing and how to manage his game from his grandfather.

It’s not unusual for a player to seek out his grandfather, especially one who brought him into the game.

But not everyone’s grandfather is Arnold Palmer.

The 22-year-old Saunders sought out Palmer before the Bob Hope Classic, and while the instruction was far-reaching, the advice was simple. Palmer told him to find his own style, and “don’t listen to anybody else but me.”

He tied for 17th at the Honda Classic three weeks ago, his best finish. Saunders earned $68,444, which was more than Palmer’s biggest paycheck in his PGA Tour career.

“He actually mentioned it to me before I did,” Saunders said. “He looks at things like that and he’s very aware. That was pretty funny.”

Palmer gave his grandson an exemption to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

They don’t swing the same way. Saunders doesn’t hitch up his pants before every shot, although he does take after his grandfather with fearless play. On the final hole of the Honda Classic, Saunders tried to hit driver off the deck. It ended badly, but the King took notice of his bold shot and could only smile.

“I have to admit that whatever anybody else thinks, I sort of had a big grin on my face when he pulled the driver out on 18,” Palmer said. “I was very proud of him doing that.”

Palmer also was thrilled when Saunders came to him for help. And he apparently wasn’t kidding when he told his grandson not take anyone’s advice but his.

“I started Sam playing golf many years ago, and he’s done his own thing pretty much through the years up until he came and said, ‘Would you work with me?’ That was something that I had hoped would happen,” Palmer said. “He is really playing and swinging very well, and he’s doing pretty much what I’ve advised him to do. He’s stopped getting outside advice.

“I remember my father saying, ‘When you go out on the tour, you just listen to everyone that you talk to out there, and they will help you. They will help you get back here to Latrobe and drive tractors.”’

Palmer waited for the laughter to subside before concluding his story.

“I said that to Sam,” he said. “All you need to do is go out and get all that advice you can out on the tour, and you can probably get a job at Bay Hill working on the grounds or something like that. But he’s been really good.”

ERNIE ON TIGER: No player has been more critical about Tiger Woods during his return to golf than Ernie Els, who said that Woods was being “selfish” by making his first public comments on the Friday of the Match Play Championship.

Els said Wednesday he is weary of taking questions about Woods.

“It’s very difficult to talk about Tiger Woods, as I know him as a golfer and a pretty good friend,” he said. “It’s basically affected a lot of lives on tour, as well, because of the constant questioning that we have to answer about a fellow player’s private life.”

Els has not been critical of the sex scandal that got Woods into this mess, only how he has taken attention away from golf with the timing of his announcements or interviews.

And while he stood by his comment from Match Play, he added a twist.

“We had to play a tournament and I was maybe selfish from my point of view that all I wanted to do was play a golf tournament instead of talking about his personal life,” Els said. “That’s basically what I meant by that. I felt that Monday (after Match Play) would have been great. Friday wasn’t great for us.

“So maybe I was selfish. Call me selfish,” he said. “That’s maybe where I’m coming from. And now, again, questions keep coming. We cannot give you insight because we don’t know. I’d love everybody to stop asking questions about Tiger and his personal life. That’s his life. Go ask him.”

That time is coming.

CAPTAIN BY EXAMPLE: Colin Montgomerie has not finished in the top 10 since being named Ryder Cup captain for Europe, and in his only three starts this year, he tied for 60th in Abu Dhabi and missed the cut in his other two.

He is playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational on an exemption. Montgomerie, who is No. 287 in the world ranking, flew to Houston to work with his college coach, Paul Marchand. His focus is on the Ryder Cup, but he still wants to win to set an example.

“I have a goal that I would love to win before the Ryder Cup starts,” Montgomerie said. “I’d like to stand in front of my team at the opening ceremony as a tournament winner myself this year. That’s a goal, and I’m working toward that.”

DIVOTS: Eight of the 13 winners on the PGA Tour are among the top 30 in the world ranking. … Colin Montgomerie said the best way to find playing partners for Tiger Woods at the Masters is to ask for volunteers. Would he volunteer if he were playing? “Yes, I would volunteer, yes,” he said. “I think it would be very, very exciting, very exciting to see him come back.” … Camilo Villegas, who made a round trip to Colombia the week he won the Honda Classic, finally caught up on his rest by going back home to Colombia for seven days. How to rest? He rode his bike.

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”