October 6, 2016
Honouring Arnold Palmer
October 6, 2016
September 27, 2016
“Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself.–Jack Nicklaus
Nicklaus’ full tribute, from his Facebook page (transcription courtesy of FTW):
“I just got the news at about 8:45 that Arnold had passed. I was shocked to hear that we lost a great friend—and that golf lost a great friend.
At this point I don’t know what happened, and I suppose it is not important what happened. What is important is that we just lost one of the incredible people in the game of golf and in all of sports. My friend—many people’s friend—just wore out. I know he was in Pittsburgh trying to find out how to make himself better. That’s what Arnold has always tried to do. He has always been a fighter and he never gave up on anything. He didn’t give up even now. Maybe his body did, but I know Arnold’s will and spirit did not.
I wish I had another chance to talk to him, but I am so glad we talked a couple weeks ago on his birthday (September 10), when he sounded great. So Barbara and I are just in shock and incredibly saddened. Our hearts, thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to Kit, his kids, grand-kids, great-grandchildren, and his entire loving family.
He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time. I will miss him greatly.
Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon. He was a legend. Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport. He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself. Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans—Barbara and I among them. We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way. Arnold always had my back, and I had his. We were always there for each other. That never changed.
He was the king of our sport and always will be.”–Jack Nicklaus
September 26, 2016
Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer whose full-bore style of play, thrilling tournament victories and magnetic personality inspired an American golf boom, attracted a following known as Arnie’s Army and made him one of the most popular athletes in the world, died on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his business enterprises. Palmer was 87.
August 21, 2016
by Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY
Rio de Janeiro
Korea’s Inbee Park–The Gold Medalist at Olympics Rio 2016
Steady as she goes, stoic in nature, Inbee Park of South Korea rarely lets anything knock her off balance.
Damaged left thumb? No biggie. Wind gusts that sent capybaras scurrying for cover? Ho-hum. Dealing with the pressure of winning a gold medal? Got it covered. And cracking after messing up the 10th hole? Hardly.
Park, who hadn’t finished a tournament since April and had not played an LPGA tour event in two months because of an injured left thumb, captured the gold medal with sterling play Saturday in the women’s golf tournament at Olympic Golf Course.
The former world No. 1 and winner of seven major championships was an unflappable front-runner the last three rounds and capped off her victory with a final-round 5-under-par 66 to polish off women’s golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time in 116 years.
A Silver for Lydia Ko of New Zealand
At 16 under for the tournament, Park was five shots clear of silver medalist and world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who birdied the last hole to shoot 69 and finish one stroke ahead of bronze medalist Shanshan Feng, who shot 69.
A large and boisterous Korean contingent met Park on the first tee and cheered her on through 18 holes. When Park tapped in for par on the final hole, she raised both arms to the sky in a rare show of emotion and saluted the crowd.
China’s Shanshan Feng–Bronze for her
“This is definitely one of the special moments in my golfing career and in my whole life. It feels great,” said Park, who earned entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year. “Representing your country, winning the gold, it’s so special. It’s just really all I’ve wanted. I’m just happy.
“ … Somewhere in my heart, after I made the decision to play, I really believed in myself that I can do it. If I didn’t have a trust in myself, I wouldn’t be playing this week.”
The Americans were shut out of the medal ceremony. Stacy Lewis, who double-bogeyed the par-5 18th on Friday, closed with a 66 and finished at 9 under, just one stroke out of a playoff for the bronze. Gerina Piller started the day two shots back but bogeyed her first two holes and shot 74 to finish in a tie for 11th at 6 under. Lexi Thompson shot her best round of the week, a 66, and finished at 3 under and in a tie for 19th.
August 17, 2016
Korea’s First Lady of Golf Se Ri Pak, whose twin major victories in 1998 at age 20 inspired a generation of girls to greatness in her homeland, announced her retirement Thursday at the JTBC Founders Cup.
Pak, who will be 39 in September, says she will play a few more events this year before hanging up her competitive clubs for good. She posted a three-under 69 in the first round at the Wildfire Golf Club.
“Basically, 2016 will be my last full-time season,” she said after her round Thursday. “I know I love to play golf but it is also my dream to help others.” She said she is “going back to my country” to help young girls pursue their dreams.
Pak walks away from the game as the all-time LPGA winner among Koreans with 25 titles, ranking her 23rd in tour history. Inbee Park, who is only 27, has 17 LPGA wins and her seven major championships eclipsed the five Pak accumulated in her LPGA Hall of Fame career for the most among Korean-born players.
The impact of Pak on golf in Korea in particular and on the global growth of the game in general cannot be overstated. When she won the 1998 McDonald’s LPGA Championship, her first major and first LPGA victory, there was such a media rush from her homeland at her next event (the ShopRite Classic in Atlantic City, N.J.) that tour officials had to get “Quiet Please” signs printed in Korean to help marshal media unfamiliar with golf.
Her playoff victory over Jenny Chuasiriporn in the U.S. Women’s Open later that summer cemented her reputation and inspired a generation of girls at home to try golf since the event was televised in Korea.
Pak returned to Korea that fall to a heroes welcome and ended up in the hospital after collapsing in exhaustion following a crush of tournament, corporate, media and fan obligations.
Among those who were watching on TV as Pak won that ’98 U.S. Women’s Open was Park, then 10 years old, who decided that was the career she wanted to follow.
Lydia Ko, who was born in Seoul but raised in New Zealand, was 1 when Pak had her breakthrough year. It was Ko’s parents who watched Se Ri on television and dreamed of a day when their daughter could hoist golf trophies. Now she is the No. 1 player in women’s golf.
Since Pak won those twin majors in 1998, a dozen other Korean-born players have won a total of 19 LPGA majors, including six of the last eight U.S. Women’s Opens. And since Pak captured the Rolex Rookie of the Year in 1998, nine other Korean-born players have earned the award.
Pak’s last major title was the 2006 McDonald’s LPGA Championship and her last LPGA victory was the Bell Micro LPGA Classic in 2010. She was a inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
Pak may be leaving the tour but she leaves behind an incredibly deep pool of talent from her golf-passionate country. And she leaves behind a stronger LPGA. Korea TV revenue is the largest single revenue stream of the tour. If it was Seve Ballesteros who brought the men’s game to the European continent, it was Pak who did the same for the women’s game in Korea and, ultimately, all of Asia.
The globalization of the women’s game truly took off after Pak dominated the stage in 1998. For that, not just the women’s game but the entire game of golf owes Pak a huge kamsa-ham-needa — which is thank you in Korean.
August 1, 2016
by Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY’S Sports
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Texan Jimmy Walker was just moseying along Sunday afternoon, looking at ease despite his name resting atop the leaderboard on the final day of the 98th PGA Championship and World No. 1 Jason Day and reigning British Open Champion Henrik Stenson on his heels.
Texan Jimmy Walker wins in style
The chaotic week full of storms, delays and odd decisions by tournament officials was behind Walker and the weight of trying to win his first major title wasn’t an issue. With nine pars to open his final 18 at Baltusrol Golf Club, a comfortable and confident Walker was right where he started – still in the lead.
Then he delivered, fittingly enough, two lightning bolts that gave him the breathing room that he would need at the end. And just over two hours after he made the turn for home, Walker’s name was etched onto the Wanamaker Trophy and into history.
His first bolt came when he holed a bunker shot for birdie from 15 yards on the 10th, the second when he knocked in a 30-footer for on the 11th. The burst of red numbers gave him a 2-shot advantage, and a huge birdie from 8 feet on the 17th gave him the final cushion he needed to hold off Day to win his first major championship.
Jason Day, 2015 PGA Golf Champion finished Runner-Up
With two putts from 34 feet on the final green, the last from 3 feet, Walker polished off a final-round, 3-under-par 67 to finish at 14 under and topple Day by one shot. Day made an eagle on the final hole from 13 feet to force Walker to make his final putt for the win.
Walker won wire-to-wire, shooting 65-66-68-67. He is the fifth consecutive first-time winner in a major.
Australia’s Jason Day closed with a 67.Daniel Summerhays shot 66 to finish at 10 under and in solo third. The finish earned him an invitation to next year’s Masters.