The host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational meets the media Wednesday at Bay Hill.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO -- Years ago at a now-defunct Champions Tour event in Charlotte, Arnold Palmer stood behind his car chatting with a young reporter.
The trunk was open, and there must have been 50 golf clubs laying inside. As he talked, Palmer kept picking different ones up and wrapping his tanned fingers around the grip like he was sampling dishes at a buffet.
Palmer said Wednesday there's probably never been a club made that didn't find its way into his bag at some point during his career. Not that it necessarily stayed there very long -- and that includes the belly putter.
Therein lies the conundrum. Palmer isn't a "fan" of the long putter but he wouldn't go so far as to rule out using one.
"I suppose that if I were playing, and a long putter, being
totally legal, and would help my game, I might use it," Palmer
said. "But I'm opposed to it personally. I just think that there
shouldn't be a place in the game for anchoring a club against the
body, which is what the long putter does.
"So, technically, and principally, I am against it. But would I use it if it were going to enhance my game in the competition? I might."
Here are some other nuggets from his annual press conference at Bay Hill in advance of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
ON TIGER WOODS: "I'm watching him swing and I'm watching him play, and I see some moments of the old fashioned Tiger that is very good. ... So you know, if I were making a prediction, I would say, look out, because one of these days, he's going to come back and play pretty good golf."
ON BUBBA WATSON: "I think he brings back some of the memories that I've had of people like (Seve) Ballesteros and some of those people that were kind of loose and wild, but good, great players. I think that that is a very exciting thing, and I think we need more of that excitement. Phil Mickelson gave us a little of that style of play over the years. I feel that that's good stuff. Even the ... Gene Littler style of down the fairway, on the green and a putt; we have them, but that's part of the game. That's what it's all about; the excitement of seeing a guy miss a shot and make a comeback shot, I think that's the fun of the game."
ON CADDIES PICKING UP SHAG BALLS IN THE OLD DAYS: "Well, you have the same thing now, but you have it in the form of a flagstick out there or a target. But in the older days, we had caddies with the bag out there and they picked up the balls. So we were hitting to a target all the time. I had a caddie that caught the ball with a baseball glove all the time. Gary Player used to tell the story about, he says, 'Arnie hits it so good, the caddie hits it here with the glove, here with the glove. Sometimes it hits him right on the head, and before he gets up, he hits him again.'"
ON HITTING THE CEREMONIAL FIRST TEE SHOT AT THE MASTERS: "I don't think that everybody understands what it's like to stand on the first tee at Augusta and hit the beginning shot. That is something that other than winning the Masters or being there when it's counting, that's one of the big thrills of all time; to see the people; to have the Chairman introduce us all; and get into it and start the Tournament is something that I've enjoyed. I didn't think I ever would when they talked about it in the beginning, but I guess age has a lot to do with that."
ON THE CHEERS AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL: "I think one of the biggest cheers I ever heard was when I've hit it over the green at 16 and I was under the TV tower and (Jimmy) Demaret was talking up on top of the tower, and he was describing what my shot was going down the hill. ... And I waited a little bit, and he kept talking ... and finally I decided, oh, well, what the hell, I'll just go ahead and play the shot. But what he had said was, 'He has no chance from here. If he gets it up and down, it will be a small miracle.' Well, when I hit it, it rolled down and went in the hole. That cheer, people seemed to know what was going on. They couldn't hear him, but they just seemed to have a feeling for the tenseness that was going on. And when it rolled in the hole, that was one of the big cheers I've ever heard."
ON RORY McILROY: "I think he has done a wonderful job with 22 years old and starting a career like he has just gotten launched onto. I had a letter from him as I mentioned earlier, and talking about coming up and having a talk with me. I'm not sure that I know exactly what he wants me to tell him or what he wants to hear from me, but I look forward to seeing him and talking to him. And of course, as I said, I'm sorry that he isn't here. But he also mentioned in the letter that he will be here to play in the years to come."
Click here to read the full transcript.
Wake Forest alum Webb Simpson discusses his close association with Arnold Palmer, dating back to his days as a Demon Deacon.
All interviews will be streamed live on PGATOUR.COM.
Wednesday, March 21
Arnold Palmer, 10 a.m. ET
Justin Rose, after pro-am
Ryo Ishikawa, 11:30 a.m. ET
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods tinkered with some new clubs prior to this week’s Australian Open.
Woods, a longtime loyalist to Nike’s Victory Red blades, tried out a VR-S Forged long iron in Sydney. It’s a perimeter cavity-back weighted iron that allows for higher trajectories, which in turn helps shots stop quicker on fast greens.
The VR-S Forged irons are not available to the public yet.
FOREVER THE KING: Arnold Palmer made his 20th career hole-in-one at Bay Hill earlier this week at his Bay Hill Club and Lodge, using a new Callaway Razr XF 5-iron for the first time. He holed out from 163 yards in a fivesome of friends that had 50 aces collectively.
CALC’S CHANGE: At the Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship last week, Mark Calcavecchia had a pair of new Ping G20 drivers overnighted from the company in Arizona after an errant first-round drive where he thought he felt the clubhead come loose.
“I thought the head was loose, but it was probably my head that’s loose,” Calcavecchia joked.
The always-quotable Calc later riffed about driver specs when pressed for more details about the replacement G20.
“They gave me one I think with a little less torque. It's got some numbers on the side of it. I get this question all the time from amateurs. What torque do you use? How many grams? I say, I don't know. I grab a driver, if it feels good, I'll go with it. I'm really not technically up on specifications.
“The other one said 60, which I know is the grams. It says 3.4, then stiff. This one says 2.9. I'm guesstimating that's the torque. It feels a little bit stiffer, so maybe the torque is less or more. I don't know.”
FROM THE BOSS: Loren Roberts of the Champions Tour, long one of the best putters in the game, was asked last week at TPC Harding Park about whether he had ever picked up a long putter.
“I was in my hometown of St. Louis, one of the members there had one. I messed around with it a little bit,” said Roberts, the 1994 PGA TOUR leader in putting average. “If it was outside 20 feet, I couldn’t get it near the hole. And I’m a speed putter. I don’t think it would work for me.”
A who's who of the golf world convened at Wake Forest on Monday for the annual Wake Forest Golf Pro-Am.
Not only was the legendary Arnold Palmer in attendance, so were the men who finished 1-2 in the final FedExCup standings -- Bill Haas and Webb Simpson.
Simpson arrived in Winston-Salem after nearly making The McGladrey Classic his third win in six starts, losing in a playoff to Ben Crane. He took over the lead for the money title on Sunday and heads for a showdown this week with No. 2 Luke Donald at the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
Haas won his last start in a playoff, fueled by a stunning up-and-down from the water beside the 17th green, to capture both the FedExCup and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
As a result, both are prime candidates for PGA TOUR Player of the Year honors. That list also includes Donald and Keegan Bradley, the rookie who counts the PGA Championship among his two wins. Mark Wilson, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney and Steve Stricker also won twice this season.
Palmer knows where his vote -- errr, make that votes -- would go.
"I'd make Bill and Webb co-players of the year," Palmer to PGATOUR.COM's John Dell, who covers golf for the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal. "Of course, I'm a little biased toward the Wake guys. But they are both great guys, and I'm so happy to see them doing so well."
Regardless of who their peers choose to win the Arnold Palmer Award, Haas thinks to have Demon Deacons finishing 1-2 in the FedExCup is special.
"I think when you think about that and look at it, that's pretty amazing," Haas said. On Saturday, he got to lead the Wake Forest football team onto the field prior to its game with Virginia Tech.
To read Dell's story, click here.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Just as the fans loved seeing Arnold Palmer play in the Wells Fargo Championship pro-am on Wednesday so did the PGA TOUR pros.
"Arnie is the king, and what he's done for the game of golf we're benefiting from now," said Phil Mickelson, who, in a move that would have made Palmer proud, signed autographs for nearly 45 minutes after his pro-am round.
"Here we are 50 years later when he was dominating in the '60s that we're able to capitalize on what he really brought the sport to and certainly what Tiger has done for us in the last 15 years, too.
"But to have him out here, it means a lot, because we still look up to him as the epitome of what a golf professional should be."
Dustin Johnson agreed.
"I hope I'm still walking when I'm 81," Johnson said, when reminded of Palmer's age. "I think it's great. He's a great ambassador for the game. He's a super nice guy, and he's been a great champion for a long time. I think it's very nice for him to come out here and do this."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The affection was evident with every step Arnold Palmer took on Wednesday as he played in the Wells Fargo Championship pro-am.
And those fans wanted one more glimpse after Palmer finished his post-round interview session near the clubhouse at Quail Hollow. They called out his name repeatedly, trying to get his attention as he slowly trudged up the stairs.
"We love you, Mr. Palmer," someone yelled.
The man who is arguably the most popular player the game has ever known paused as he reached the landing, then turned and waved at the crowd to great applause. In a small way, it conjured up memories of Palmer's stop on the Swilcan Bridge during his last competitive round at St. Andrews.
"That was very flattering," the ever-humble Palmer said of the fan support. "They knew I wasn't going to play any kind of great golf, but it was fun. It was fun seeing the people. I saw so many old friends. That was the thrill for me, and it made ... it a nice day for me."
Palmer was playing with his grandson, Sam Saunders, and the owner of the Quail Hollow Club, Johnny Harris. Saunders, who played collegiately at Clemson, received a sponsor's exemption and will be making his 12th PGA TOUR start this week.
"It was great, seeing him play and getting a feel for what's going on in his life right now," Palmer said. "Of course you know I did it for 50 some odd years, and to see him now doing it and he's having a bit of a struggle, but I think he's going to do well. He's strong, he looks pretty good playing, and I look for him to do well this week."
Saunders' best finish in 2011 is a tie for 15th at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He also tied for 10th at the Panama Claro Championship on te Nationwide Tour.
The 81-year-old Palmer said Wednesday marked just his second round in the last 10 days. He and Harris played from the back tees -- "If you're going to do it, do it right, so we did today," Palmer said. "We played where we had no business playing."
Palmer, who played collegiately at Wake Forest, once made his home in Charlotte. The visit brought back memories of friends like the late Dick Tiddy, a Charlotte native who was a teammate of Palmer's and later worked as the director of golf at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
"This has been sort of a second home to me for many, many years, going back to my Wake Forest days," Palmer said. "... So there's a lot of reason for me to enjoy Charlotte."
And what did Palmer think of Quail Hollow, where he used to play in the Kemper Open and PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational?
"It played tougher than I've ever seen it play, but it's great," Palmer said. "I think it's set up for a real good tournament."
The Wells Fargo Championship has recruited a special guest to play in its Wednesday pro-am -- the legendary Arnold Palmer.
Palmer will be paired with his grandson, Sam Saunders, who received a sponsor's exemption into the tournament, and John Harris, the president of the host Quail Hollow Club. The threesome will tee off around 12:15 p.m. ET.
"We are honored Mr. Palmer will be joining us during the tournament and will be part of our pro-am," said Wells Fargo Championship Executive Director Kym Hougham. "Not only will Wednesday be a special day for all of the fans but it will be a memorable day in the history of this tournament."
Palmer, who is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, last played a public round of golf in Charlotte at the 2001 Home Depot Invitational held at TPC Piper Glen. He also played in the pro-am at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. earlier this year.
Palmer is extremely well acquainted with Quail Hollow and even oversaw the modification of several holes at the club in 1986. Palmer played in 10 Kemper Opens on the PGA TOUR held there with a best finish of a tie for fifth. He also competed in the Champions Tour's World Seniors Invitational on six occasions -- finishing second once and third twice among five top-10s.
NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson is also competing in the Wednesday pro-am while fellow driver Denny Hamlin will be playing in the Monday event. Johnson, who picked up his 54th Sprint Cup win earlier this year, drives the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Hamlin, a 16-time champ, drives the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Honorary starters Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who’ve combined to win 10 Green Jackets, opened the 75th Masters by hitting ceremonial tee shots early Thursday morning at Augusta National.
It’s the second consecutive year the two legends have opened the Masters together.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The marquee threesome at the Par 3 Contest has just teed off and between them, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player have 13 Masters titles.
Of the Big Three, Nicklaus has the most recent win in the season’s first major -- and that came 25 years ago when he was 46 years old. In fact, he’s playing the Par 3 Contest with a replica of the oversize MacGregor Response ZT putter he used in 1986.
* Kevin Streelman, who is playing in his first Masters, gave his caddie, Michael Christensen, the afternoon off. He will have his father on the bag at the Par 3 Contest instead.
* And so far, there’s only been on ace at the Par 3 and that came on the 130-yard first hole by Craig Stadler. It was the 73rd hole-in-one in the competition, which began in 1960.
* And don’t look now – but Luke Donald, who is ranked No. 4 in the world, is leading the Par 3 after shooting 5 under.
The Englishman is one of the pre-tournament favorites. So maybe Donald can buck the trend that no Par 3 winner has gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
At least the winner walks away with a crystal bowl.