Arnold Palmer: ‘The King’ of golf dies at 87

Arnold Palmer was the telegenic golfer who took a staid sport to TV and to the masses.

Before accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, Arnold Palmer shared a few laughs with President George W. Bush and gave the commander in chief a few golf tips in the East Room of the White House.

Eight years later, when honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, Palmer, who again offered golf tips to some of the most important politicians in the country, jokingly thanked the House and the Senate for being able to agree on something.

After receiving the highest civilian awards given in the United States, Palmer went outside each day, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the U.S. Capitol, and signed autographs for hundreds of people.

That was Palmer, a man who connected with the masses, who related to kids, the hourly wage employee, the CEO — and Presidents.

Palmer, who died Sunday in Pittsburgh at age 87, was the accessible common man who would become the King and lead his own army. Along the way he became one of the sport’s best players and a successful businessman, philanthropist, trailblazing advertising spokesman, talented golf course designer and experienced aviator.

Alastair Johnson, CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, confirmed that Palmer died Sunday afternoon of complications from heart problems. Johnson said Palmer was admitted to the hospital Thursday for some cardiovascular work and weakened over the last few days.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of Arnold Palmer, golf’s greatest ambassador, at age 87,” the U.S. Golf Association said in a statement.  “Arnold Palmer will always be a champion, in every sense of the word. He inspired generations to love golf by sharing his competitive spirit, displaying sportsmanship, caring for golfers and golf fans, and serving as a lifelong ambassador for the sport.  Our stories of him not only fill the pages of golf’s history books and the walls of the museum, but also our own personal golf memories.  The game is indeed better because of him, and in so many ways, will never be the same.”

While his approach on the course was not a model of aesthetics — the whirlybird follow through, the pigeon-toed putting stance — it worked for him. With thick forearms and a thin waist, Palmer had an aggressive risk-reward approach to golf that made for compelling theater. He hit the ball with authority and for distance and ushered in an aggressive, hitch-up-your-trousers, go-for-broke, in-your-face power game rarely seen in the often stoic and staid sport.

Palmer, part of the alluring “Big Three,” with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, won 62 titles on the PGA Tour, his last coming in the 1973 Bob Hope Desert Classic. Among those victories were four at the Masters, two at the British Open and one at the U.S. Open. He finished second in the U.S. Open four times, was runner-up three times in the PGA Championship, the only major that eluded him, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Palmer became one of the best known sports figures and, at 5-10, 175, a telegenic golfer who burst out of black-and-white television sets across the country in the late 1950s and into the 1960s and took the game to the masses.

“Arnold meant everything to golf. Are you kidding me?” Tiger Woods said . “I mean, without his charisma, without his personality in conjunction with TV — it was just the perfect symbiotic growth. You finally had someone who had this charisma, and they’re capturing it on TV for the very first time.

“Everyone got hooked to the game of golf via TV because of Arnold.”

For the rest of the story visit http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/golf/2016/09/25/arnold-palmer-obituary/1881465/USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio reflects on the loss of the golf legend. USA TODAY Sportshttp://usat.ly/2duV4m0

Bubba to join U.S. Ryder Cup practice session

Bubba Watson will join six members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for an informal practice session this weekend at Hazeltine National, Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte reported Thursday.

Watson, ranked No. 7 in the world, is not a member of the team. Davis Love III has one remaining captain’s pick, to be announced after next week’s Tour Championship.

Rosaforte said he asked Love if Watson has not been picked because of any issues with his personality. In a 2015 ESPN poll of 103 anonymous Tour pros, Watson was chosen as the player others would be least likely to help in a fight.

Love said Watson is “the opposite of that,” Rosaforte reported, and is a popular presence in the team room. “He’s quirky, but so is Phil [Mickelson,]” Rosaforte said Love told him.

“I told Bubba after the Olympics, remember, there’s a pick after the Tour Championship,” Love said he told Watson.

The last captain’s pick is informally known as the “Billy Horschel pick,” after Horschel in 2014 got hot at the end of the season, winning two playoff events and the FedEx Cup, but was locked out of the Ryder Cup team because the captain’s selections had already been made.

“If he plays well, he’s certainly going to be considered,” Rosaforte said. “He is not as negative an influence as many people wrote and led us to believe over the last couple of days, at least coming from captain Davis Love.”

The 41st Ryder Cup Matches will be played Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn. Europe has won the past three Ryder Cups and six of the past seven.

The six team members expected to join Love for the practice session are Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker, according to Rosaforte.

 

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/watson-join-us-ryder-cup-practice-session/?cid=rr_editorial_p2

McNealy facing The Decision

HANGING ABOVE HIS EXTRA-LONG twin bed, on colorful three-by-five prints, are three motivational sayings by which Maverick McNealy tries to live his life:

If You Can Do Something About It, Do It; If Not, Don’t Worry About It

There’s Always Better

What Are You Going to Learn About Yourself Today?

Those maxims are from his tycoon father, a Nike ad campaign and a random post on Twitter, but they’ve guided McNealy through his formative years at Stanford – through his meteoric rise from overlooked recruit to No. 1-ranked amateur, as well as through his daunting management science and engineering major.

The first two messages are straightforward: There is no benefit in worrying, and it’s motivating and exciting to know that you can improve. But the last one is more complex.

“There are a lot of ways you can think about it,” he said recently. “One is that you should try and learn something from everything you do – that’s part of getting better. But the other is that you make your own character.

“It’s a challenge to myself: How are you going to carry yourself? What are you going to do? What are you going to live by?”

Those questions have never been more relevant to McNealy as he approaches his final college season.

For a kid with seemingly every gift imaginable – intelligence, good looks, desire, wealth, a strong support system and, yes, tremendous physical ability – what he currently lacks most is clarity. His complicated major essentially takes a lot of information and distills it into something useful, and that background will surely come in handy later this year when he chooses whether to follow the traditional path by turning pro or veers off course by entering the business world.

An advertiser’s dream, McNealy could command a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal … or he could become intrigued by a classmate’s startup idea and join forces. He could realize what many predict will be a fruitful career inside the ropes … or he could opt for a corner office. He has yet to give even those closest to him any indication which way he’s leaning, which suggests that he’s torn between a life as a touring professional and one in which he becomes a modern-day Bobby Jones, who was a lawyer by profession.

McNealy said that he will make a decision this December, six months before graduation, and it could prove to be unprecedented, at least in the big-money era spawned by Tiger Woods.

Only one All-American in the past 25 years has eschewed the PGA Tour for an office job.

For the full article from the Golf Channel visit the link below.

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/ryan-lavner/decision-mcnealy-torn-between-golf-business/

The Open 2016: Henrik Stenson v Phil Mickelson was heaven sent

I know many of you spent the weekend watching this incredible tournament!  I was rooting for Phil but Stenson played amazing golf!  Thought we;d share the following article.

After so many negative headlines in the build-up, the classic Open duel between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson was just what golf needed.

The game’s reputation had taken a battering by so many high-profile withdrawals from the Rio Olympics and Rory McIlroy’s frank disdain for golf’s return to the Games.

As a result, there seemed little sympathy for golf from the wider sporting public as play got under way at Royal Troon on Thursday and even as the championship developed in its early stages.

Thank goodness, then, for the epic contest between the Swede and the American, four hours of astonishing drama that showed the game at its magical best.

The momentum was traded not by nervous mistakes but by bewildering quality that must be regarded as some of the best play ever witnessed in the last round of a major.

If you had offered the defeated American a closing 65 on Sunday morning, he would surely have snapped off your hand. Yet it proved only good enough for a three-stroke defeat as Stenson sprinted for the line with four birdies in the last five holes.

For those who witnessed it, the 145th Open will live long in the memory. The only shame is that there were not more people watching.

The final group attracted large numbers of followers throughout their two-day duel, but overall attendance figures were down on the last time The Open was staged at Royal Troon.

Back in 2004 Tiger Woods was at the height of his powers and more than 176,000 fans flocked to the Ayrshire links. Last week those numbers were down to 173,134 and this was despite lower-rate twilight tickets.

Scenes such as the disappointingly empty grandstands around the 18th that greeted Stenson and Mickelson as they marched up the last on Saturday evening gave the impression there were even fewer fans in attendance than the official figure.

It is a shame spectator numbers were slightly down and that there was no live terrestrial TV coverage in the UK, because this was an Open that deserved the widest-possible audience – and not just for the brilliance of the leading pair of protagonists.

There was so much more to enjoy, including the way leading stars like McIlroy, Jason Day and Danny Willett tussled with the worst of the weather.

That those players who played early on Thursday and late on Friday were effectively blown out of contention by the elements raises the question of whether The Open – subject as it is to the vagaries of British seaside weather – should adopt a two-tee start like the US Open and US PGA Championship.

It would shorten the day and might limit the variance in conditions that is largely inevitable when play begins at 6.35am and does not end until around 9.30pm.

However such an alteration would mess with the tradition of The Open and you do that at your peril. It is a unique event and those long days are one of the factors that make the championship so distinctive.

Rather than a debate about the capricious conditions, last week will be remembered for the epic dubbed “High Noon at Troon”.

And it wasn’t the only memorable storyline. There was the emergence on the major stage of Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, whose jovial manner was so refreshing as he finished eighth. The heavily-bearded 27-year-old relished the attention his terrific golf generated.

It is laughable to equate the North Middlesex man with recent Wimbledon sensation Marcus Willis – as the Spanish Open champion, he has a far better sporting pedigree – but they do share an ability to engage with crowds.

Let’s hope the elongated sound of “Beeeeef” becomes a regular refrain at major venues around the world in the coming years. He is just the sort of ‘everyman’ figure the game requires.

Now up to number 89 in the world, Johnston can now look forward to next week’s US PGA at Baltusrol.

Yes, there really is another major as soon as next week.

It feels ludicrous there is such a short time between two of the year’s most significant tournaments; we need more time to savour the drama of Troon before building to the last of the ‘big four’ men’s events.

To use the analogy that caused a stir last week (when used to describe McIlroy), the PGA is the ‘Ringo’ of the majors and this scheduling does nothing to help elevate it from its standing as the fourth of four.

It has been brought forward to accommodate the Olympics, but at least at Baltusrol we will see the leading four stars – Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and McIlroy – before they disappear during the Rio competition.

None of the quartet enjoyed the best of times at Troon, although McIlroy responded to his harsh ‘Ringo’ tag to finish top of the ‘big four’.

The Ulsterman ended a fractious tournament in good style to record another top-five finish in a major.

You would not put it past McIlroy to elevate his year from ‘modest’ to ‘great’ in New Jersey next week, but as The Open once again proved, it is folly to make predictions in majors.

No-one saw the Stenson/Mickelson showdown coming, but thank goodness it materialised into the most timely reminder of golf’s greatness at the very highest level.

Source: www.BBC.com