50 Years Arnold Palmer Part 1

By Mercer BaggsApril 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: As Arnold Palmer approaches his 80th birthday Sept. 10, we reflect with some of our best Palmer stories.
Today there are no worries. Today there is no race.
Today, says Arnold Palmer, I feel pretty good.
Yes, today is a good day for the 78-year-old golfing icon, one to relish where lifes locomotive has taken him and not worry about where its headed.
Fifty years ago. Thats what Palmer is being asked to recall on this fine day. The first week in April, 1958, to be exact, back when he won his first of four green jackets, defeating Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins by one ' and a rather perturbed Ken Venturi by two.
For Palmer it was his fourth appearance at the Masters Tournament. By then he was an established 28-year-old professional player, a winner of eight PGA TOUR events.
He was driving a Cadillac at that point, not that two-door Ford hardtop, with trailer in tow, which he had been when he first showed up in 55 a bit desperate and a lot broke.
By then (1958) I had enough cash to afford that car, Palmer says with a smile.
Arnold ' handsome and strong, married and father of one little girl ' was a burgeoning superstar in the late 50s. He wasnt yet The King ' that title wasnt given to him until years later. Winning the 1958 Masters, though, helped set the foundation of his reign.
It got real serious when I won the Masters and the (U.S.) Open in 1960, recalls Palmer about his popularity. Thats when it got exciting.
Nineteen-hundred and 58 had been an exciting year for Palmer leading up to the seasons first major championship. Two weeks prior to the Masters he won in St. Petersburg, Fla. The following week he lost in a playoff to Howie Johnson at the Azalea Open Invitational. Afterwards he hopped in his fancy Cadillac and made his way from Wilmington, N.C., down to Augusta, Ga.
Palmer remembers well the days leading up to the start of the 22nd Masters Tournament. The winners list already included the likes of Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.
Thanks to his good buddy Dow Finsterwald, Palmer had a match set up with Hogan. Of course, Palmer and Hogan were on opposite teams; Palmer with Finsterwald, Hogan with 1956 Masters champion Jackie Burke.
Hogan and Palmer were never chummy. They displayed polar opposite personalities ' Hogan distant and cold; Palmer, 17 years his junior, receptive and warm. Says Palmer with another smile: He wasnt my kind of guy. We were, lets say, distant friends.
The two squared off in a 'friendly' team match that Tuesday. Having arrived just hours before, Palmer was a bit groggy, his play a bit sloppy.
The good news was that my partner, Dow Finsterwald, played very well and we beat Hogan and Burke for 35 bucks which made me feel pretty dag gone good, Palmer says.
He grins at the memory. He also remembers Hogan questioning: How the hell did Palmer get an invitation to the Masters?
The comment stung Palmer, who only admitted as much to his wife at the time. Fifty years later his response is: I won the 58 Masters.
He grins again.
Like many, Palmer's attraction to Augusta National was immediate, even before he actually had a chance to play it.
'I was in love with it before I ever got there in 1955,' Palmer says, 'I knew what it was like, and to get to Augusta was,' he pauses for reflection, 'just ... it was the best feeling you could have.'
Desite his fondness for the course, not many figured Palmer to be a Masters champion. While very talented and a proven winner, pundits and contrarians believed his ball flight would never lead him to be successful at Augusta.
There was some talk among the senior pros and some of the amateurs who were pretty good, and there was some talk about my possibly winning the Masters, Palmer recalls.
But it wasnt very complimentary.
Palmers ball trajectory was low ' I never hit my irons up in the air like Jack, he says. At Augusta its beneficial to be a high-ball hitter, to have your approach shots land softly and perfectly on those extreme putting surfaces ' like Nicklaus, who won a record 6 green jackets, or Tiger Woods, who already has four.
Not like Palmer ' a line-drive hitter ' who, incidentally, has four as well.
As the story goes, or as Palmer likes to tell it, his good friend and fellow pro George Fazio was talking to Tony Penna one afternoon. The two were watching a young Arnie hit balls on the range.
He (Penna) says, What, hes on tour full time? And Faz says, Yeah, and hes gonna be pretty good. Penna looked a Fazio and he said, You know, if hes a friend of yours you better tell him to get a job,'' Palmer says with a chuckle.
Certainly Palmer had the last laugh, throughout his career and in that first week of April, 1958.
Well I knew my game was in pretty good shape even though I played poorly in the practice rounds. I was hitting the ball good and I felt confident, Palmer says, adding, I didnt really have any idea that I was going to win the Masters. That is something you cant really tell yourself.
Palmer opened that Thursday in 2-under 70, placing him two back of Venturi. He shot 73 Friday, but made a 25-foot birdie putt to close out a third-round 68 and earn a share of the 54-hole lead with Snead at 5 under.
The previous year, Palmer was one back of Snead after three rounds when he closed in 76 to tie for seventh.
That, Palmer said at the time, wont happen again.
Editor's note: Part 2 can be read Thursday, Sept. 3rd, on GolfChannel.com
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    Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 6:35 pm

    Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

    (Note: Group winners are highlighted; * equals won in playoff)

    Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
    (1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0 (2) J. Thomas: 2-0-0 (3) J. Rahm: 0-2-1 (4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0
    (32) K. Kisner: 1-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 2-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat: 3-0-0 (19) P. Reed: 2-0-0
    (38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
    (48) P. Kizzire: 0-2-0 (43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0 (34) H. Li: 0-2-0
    (52) B. Wiesberger: 1-1-0
    (60) L. List: 0-2-0 (63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1 (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0
    Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
    (5) H. Matsuyama: 1-1-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 1-2-0 (7) S. Garcia: 2-0-0 (8) J. Day: 1-1-0
    (30) P. Cantlay: 1-1-0
    (18) B. Harman: 2-0-1 (20) X. Schauffele: 2-0-0 (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-1-0
    (46) C. Smith: 2-0-0 (44) J. Vegas: 0-2-1 (41) D. Frittelli: 0-2-0 (42) J. Dufner: 1-1-0
    (53) Y. Miyazato: 0-2-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 2-1-0 (62) S. Sharma: 0-2-0 (56) J. Hahn: 1-1-0
    Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
    (9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0 (10) P. Casey: 2-0-0 (11) M. Leishman: 0-2-1 (12) T. Hatton: 2-0-0
    (26) D. Berger: 0-2-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-2-0 (23) B. Grace: 1-1-1 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-2-0
    (33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0 (45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0 (35) B. Watson: 2-0-1 (36) B. Steele: 1-1-0
    (58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0 (51) R. Henley: 1-1-0 (64) J. Suri: 1-1-1 (55) A. Levy: 1-1-0
    Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
    (13) A. Noren: 2-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-1-1 (16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1
    (29) T. Finau: 2-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0 (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-1 (27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0
    (39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0 (40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0 (37) W. Simpson: 1-0-1 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0
    (61) K. Na: 0-2-0 (59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 1-0-1 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1
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    Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 3

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 5:44 pm

    Here is how things played out on Day 3 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 2 match results:

    Group 1: Dustin Johnson (1) vs. Kevin Kisner (32)

    Group 1: Adam Hadwin (38) vs. Bernd Wiesberger (52)

    Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) vs. Francesco Molinari (2)

    Group 2: Patton Kizzire (48) vs. Luke List (60)

    Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Jon Rahm, 4 and 3: Unbeaten through two days, Aphibarnrat put the hammer down on Rahm, last year’s finalist. Barnrat needed only three birdies to secure the group win, while Rahm dropped to 0-2-1 for the week.

    Group 3: Chez Reavie (43) vs. Keegan Bradley (63)

    Group winner: Kiradech Aphibarnrat

    Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) vs. Patrick Reed (19)

    Group 4: Haotong Li (34) vs. Charl Schwartzel (49)

    Group 5: Hideki Matsuyama (5) vs. Patrick Cantlay (30)

    Group 5: Cameron Smith (46) vs. Yusaku Miyazato (53)

    Group 6: Brian Harman (18) def. Rory McIlroy (6), 5 and 3: Harman took advantage of McIlroy’s missed putts and uncharacteristic mistakes to build a 3-up advantage on the front nine, then cruised to a lopsided victory. At 2-0-1, Harman wins the group, while McIlroy can begin his prep for Augusta.

    Group 6: Jhonattan Vegas (44) vs. Peter Uihlein (57) def. Jhonattan Vegas (44), 4 and 3: Even though Uihlein won the first two holes on his way to routing Vegas, it wasn’t enough for the former U.S. Amateur champion to advance. He finished the week 2-1.

    Group winner: Brian Harman

    Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) vs. Xander Schauffele (20)

    Group 7: Dylan Frittelli (41) vs. Shubhankar Sharma (62)

    Group 8: Jason Day (8) vs. Louis Oosthuizen (25)

    Group 8: Jason Dufner (42) vs. James Hahn (56)

    Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) vs. Daniel Berger (26)

    Group 9: Kevin Chappell (33) vs. Ian Poulter (58)

    Group 10: Paul Casey (10) vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick (31)

    Group 10: Kyle Stanley (45) vs. Russell Henley (51)

    Group 11: Marc Leishman (11) vs. Branden Grace (23), halved: Already eliminated, Leishman kept Grace from reaching the pool-play playoff by never trailing in the match. Though the South African holed a 25-footer on 17 to extend it, both players halved the 18th hole with birdies, including a 6-footer from Leishman, to earn a half-point.

    Group 11: Bubba Watson (35) vs. Julian Suri (64), halved: Needing just a half-point to advance, but two down with two to go, Bubba stuffed his tee shot on 17, then hit his driver pin-high on the home hole. After Suri couldn’t get up-and-down for birdie, Watson sank his 8-footer for the halve. It's the second consecutive year in which Watson has won his group.

    Group winner: Bubba Watson

    Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) vs. Charley Hoffman (22)

    Group 12: Brendan Steele (36) vs. Alexander Levy (55)

    Group 13: Alex Noren (13) vs. Tony Finau (29)

    Group 13: Thomas Pieters (39) vs. Kevin Na (61)

    Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) vs. Rafa Cabrera Bello (17)

    Group 14: Charles Howell III (59) def. Satoshi Kodaira (40), 2 and 1: Needing a halve to advance, Howell won the 14th and 16th holes with par to gain a 2-up advantage and earn the half-point that he needed. It’s the second year in a row that Howell has won his group.

    Group winner: Charles Howell III

    Group 15: Pat Perez (15) vs. Gary Woodland (24)

    Group 15: Webb Simpson (37) vs. Si Woo Kim (50)

    Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) vs. Ross Fisher (27)

    Group 16: Yuta Ikeda (47) vs. Zach Johnson (54)

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    Watch: Rory finds trouble, and more trouble, and more ...

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 4:33 pm

    Rory McIlroy was in a must-win situation against Brian Harman in order to have a chance to advance to the one-and-done portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    And, as you can see, McIlroy did not get off to an ideal start on Friday.

    McIlroy lost the third, fifth and ninth holes at Austin Country Club. Harman led, 3 up, at the turn.

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    Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 3:18 pm

    Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.

    However, he never saw it go in.

    Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.

    A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.