I Still Love Golf

By Rex HoggardMarch 25, 2009, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. ' A photo op, a quick exchange, a snapshot in time. Past, present and future crisscrossed in real time on a warm March morning on this former Orange grove, a convergence of the absolute best golf has to offer sailing through common waters.
The best Wednesday on Tour after the madness of the opening round of the WGC-Match Play and, arguably, the Par 3 Contest at the Masters, was even better this year thanks to a confluence of generations.
Arnold Palmer held his traditional court on the eve of his tournament, a cant-miss event for those who carry notebooks for a living or anyone with even a passing interest in the timelessness of golf. In these troubled economic times, Charles Schwab may not pull a crowd like he used to, but Palmers scrums still demand full attention because of his honesty and his history.
Seven decades immersed in the game give The King license to address, well, whatever he wants, and on Wednesday he was at his thoughtful best.
Palmers endearing style should give all 120 Tour players gathered for his annual soiree reason to pause. A day earlier, Rocco Mediate said it probably makes Palmer nauseous that the Tour is coaching younger members on how to treat pro-am and corporate partners. In Palmers day, schmoozing 101 was part and parcel of the professional package. You dont build an army hidden behind competitive blinders and stoic wraparound sun glasses.
When asked about Mediates comments, Palmer strayed down a slightly more diplomatic path, but his message remained vividly on point.
I would say that they need to understand more about what the Tour is all about, how it got to be where it is and my advice would be to take a good long look and then maybe realize that it didnt just happen, Palmer said. It would pay for the young people to take a look at that and maybe realize a little more about how valuable what they have is.
As the golf world braces for economic reality and handwringing reaches new heights, Palmer also took a moment to put the financial downtown into some much-needed historical perspective.
The world doesnt stop, it keeps going, Palmer said. I was born in the depression, I was raised in the depression and its going to go on. The economy is bad, sure. But we talk too much about it.
Palmer is the grandfather we all wish we had ' stocked full of more wisdom and experience than the Library of Congress with a delivery that makes even the harshest truth somehow palatable.
Its a shame that few of the players gathered at Bay Hill took Palmers lessons to heart, but maybe its more important that at least two of the most important competitors on property took time to listen.
Before Palmer addressed the media, he met with Japanese wunderkind Ryo Ishikawa. The Bashful Prince has been dubbed, perhaps prematurely, the next best thing. Comparisons to Tiger Woods and Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have rained down like practice golf balls at Vijay Singhs range, and it is a telling sign of the times that Palmer and Woods have become the voice of reason.
You dont want to miss those years, because obviously hes not going to go to college, hes not going to experience life, Woods offered when asked about Ishikawa. Now hes in basically the fishbowl, and a lot of people are going to be tugging at him, and I hope he can enjoy being a teen.
Lets hope Ishikawa has a translator that can keep up with Woods, who, despite his considerable on-course success has taken some time to become comfortable in his own skin both on and off the golf course.
Woods won 14 major championships before fate called an intermission last June and it would have been easy to see his competitive edge eating at him during his extended break. Instead, Woods seems to have emerged from his hiatus better, if not at the business of winning golf tournaments and penning legacies than at least at living.
When I first came out here it was all golf. I didnt have the balance in my life at the time that I do now, Woods said. Im still going to make mistakes, but I think that understanding responsibilities, understanding a life changes, and its changed for the better.
Woods will never be confused for Palmer in his prime, although the world No. 1 does seem to have softened in recent years as his family and his legacy has grown. The man Palmer calls Ta-gre engages the masses with his will and his talent, whereas Palmers cache seemed to be a combination of tenacity and everyman moxie.
Late last year one could almost hear an echo of Palmer in Woods words when he spoke about life after golf. His knee surgery had forced Woods to acknowledge his own professional immortality, never an easy epiphany particularly for the best of a generation, perhaps all time.
When my best is not good enough, I'm not going to be out here competing. I certainly understand that more so now than ever before, Woods said last December.
On Wednesday, with old, new and everything in between in attendance, Palmer seemed to consider his competitive sunset when he was asked about the state of his game. Rocked back in his chair, distanced from the microphone for a moment, Palmers eyes narrowed and a playful smile inched across his face.
Well, I really know what its like to have a fun game, because it sure as hell doesnt have anything to do with playing the game of golf, Palmer said. I play here in the shootout and most of these guys . . . they all beat me. And I hate it. But I still love golf.
For a brief moment, golfs past, present and future all seemed connected by a single, simple theme.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

    Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

    The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

    In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

    "That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    "I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

    Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

    But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

    "Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

    "He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

    Getty Images

    Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

    The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

    Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

    Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

    "I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

    Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

    Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

    Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

    "I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

    "Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

    Getty Images

    Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

    On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

    Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

    What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

    Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

    Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

    Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

    Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

    His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

    Getty Images

    McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

    They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

    England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

    Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

    Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.