Palmer's aura will make Sunday special for winner

By Ryan Reiterman March 18, 2017, 11:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – In a lot of ways, Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be just like all the previous Sundays since 1979 at this event, when the Florida Citrus Open moved from nearby Rio Pinar Country Club to Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

An enthusiastic crowd will surround the 18th green, a deserving champion will be crowned, a big paycheck will be sent to his bank account, lots of money will have been raised for charities and the sun will set on another successful PGA Tour event.

But when the champion walks up the hill from the final green, it will be yet another reminder that every Sunday from now on at the API will be different. The King will not be waiting at the top of the hill to greet the winner with his customary firm handshake and megawatt smile. There won’t be a celebratory drink in the clubhouse and a personal letter signed with Palmer’s legible autograph won’t arrive a few weeks later in the mail.

Palmer’s death last September at age 87 left a void that will never be replaced. His tournament was one of the many incredible legacies he left behind, and many worried that after Palmer was gone this event would lose some luster.

That clearly hasn’t been the case.

For the players in contention, they know that even without Palmer waiting behind the 18th green to congratulate them on a well-played tournament, a win on Sunday will still be incredibly special.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Especially this year, the first without the King.

“It’s very different not having him around,” said Rickie Fowler, who is wearing custom shoes this week with a collage of Palmer pictures. “It’s just going to continue to get bigger, and this could potentially be the biggest week I think they could have here, just with the excitement of the tournament and kind of the celebration of Arnie’s life.”

That celebration started a week ago when a 13-foot bronze statue of Palmer was unveiled behind the first tee at Bay Hill. It continued throughout the week with various tributes. There was a driving range salute that was a capped off with a flyover by a Coast Guard helicopter. (Palmer served three years in the Coast Guard). A stretch of a local highway was named the “Arnold Palmer Expressway.” Several players are sporting Palmer’s umbrella logo on their clothes and golf bags.

Now the attention has shifted to where Palmer would have wanted it – on the tournament.

Fowler and Rory McIlroy may not win the tournament this year, but they ignited the crowds Saturday with a pair of 7-under 65s. Perhaps one of the young superstars will give Palmer another fitting tribute and author a thrilling Sunday charge.

Charley Hoffman, who shares the 54-hole lead with Kevin Kisner (68), gave the third round a stunning conclusion. Kisner appeared to be heading into the final round with a comfy lead, but Hoffman birdied the last three holes, including a 71-foot putt on 18, to grab a share of the lead with a 1-under 71.

At 11 under, Hoffman and Kisner are three strokes clear of Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Marc Leishman.

The contenders will be solely focused on winning tomorrow, but there’s no doubt that  even without Palmer here to watch the drama unfold, his tournament still has a special aura that will never leave.

“To be in position [to win] at Arnie’s event is a special spot,” Hoffman said. “It’s right up there with competing in a major championship, there’s no question. Mr. Palmer was the King, there’s a reason why he had the name … To keep his legacy going and win this event would be something special.”

Kisner joked he’s just trying to avoid a playoff Sunday (he’s 0-3 in his career), but a win at Bay Hill would no doubt be the highlight of his six years on the PGA Tour.

“If I did win I sure wish he was here to have a drink with him afterwards, that’s for sure,” Kisner said of Palmer. “It would be a pretty unbelievable thing to have on my  résumé and add that trophy to my trophy case.”

Getty Images

McIlroy 'committed to everything ... ran out of holes'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy summed it up: “I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week.”

McIlroy, in search of his fifth major, tied for the lead at The Open late on Sunday at Carnoustie when he made eagle on the par-5 14th hole. An hour later, he had made five consecutive pars to close out a 1-under 70 and tie for second place with Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

That group ended two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. McIlroy thought it was realistic to squeeze one more shot out of his round, but he never though it was possible to squeeze out two.

“I committed to everything,” he said. “I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18. I just ran out of holes.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy hasn’t played poorly this year, but this hasn't been a year that would rank as a total success. He took the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and collected a second-place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. He had a legitimate chance to win the Masters before a terrible Sunday round, and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Sunday at Carnoustie, McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes and quickly became an afterthought. When others faltered, McIlroy birdies Nos. 9 and 11, then eagled 14 to vault back into the picture.

“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done and the golf that I played. I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks, followed by the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.

Getty Images

Edoardo, other pros congratulate Francesco on Twitter

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

Francesco Molinari played a bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to claim Italy's first claret jug.

His rock-solid performance in the final round earned him his share of social media plaudits.

Here's a collection of Twitter hat-tips, and we start off with Frankie's brother, Dodo.

Getty Images

Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

Getty Images

Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.