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March 15, 2007
From small town to big time for Palmer
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -Even now, Arnold Palmer has a hard time realizing how far his tournament has come.
Tanned and relaxed, he stared out at some four dozen people, most of them media, a bank of cameras at the back of the room. To his side was the new trophy with a statue of Palmer lashing away with his driver.
The winner also will get $990,000, about half as much as Palmer made in his 50 years on the PGA Tour.
The name of the tournament has a nice ring: The Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"My daughters are responsible for that,'' Palmer said Wednesday. "While I was playing, I would have never allowed it. That was first stipulation for not making any name change. I liked the Bay Hill Invitational logo. But when I stopped playing, that sort of opened the door for the possible name change.''
He remembers being asked to host the tournament at Bay Hill in 1979, and "it's worked out pretty well.''
"The first tournament was $100,000, and that was about the average on tour in those days,'' he said. Of course, this year we're $5.5 million. That's reasonable progress in 29 years.''
There has been progress all around him.
Palmer hails from Latrobe, Pa., and he used to travel to south Florida to practice in the winter when he first turned professional. But the Miami area was too crowded for his tastes, so he began scouting areas up and down the coasts of Florida.
It was by chance in 1965 that the Orlando Chamber of Commerce invited him to an exhibition at Bay Hill, along with Jack Nicklaus, Dave Regan and Don Cherry. He fell in love with the course, and asked about buying it from 10 partners, a process that took some time.
Still, it was just what the King wanted.
"The only thing out here was orange groves, snakes, a few birds, but a lot of wonderful freshwater,'' Palmer said. "It was quiet. It was about a 15- or 20-minute drive to downtown, which was great. It was a small town.
"Well,'' he paused to smile, "you know the story from there.''
A few years later, Disney scooped up some 27,000 acres and announced plans for a theme park. Palmer's friends figured he knew what he was doing, but even Palmer wasn't sure how much the town would grow, how it would become a tourist mecca.
"I was really looking for a quiet place to just do a nice golf course ... and here we are,'' he said.
He has a golf course that has hosted the PGA Tour for almost three decades.
And the name isn't the only change.
Wanting to make Bay Hill more of a challenge, Palmer has changed par 5s at Nos. 4 and 16 into par 4s, making the course play as a 70. The 16th used to be the last spot among the final five holes where players could think about making birdie.
"Now the party's over after the 13th,'' Joey Sindelar said. "That last hour will be torture.''
Still, the biggest difference will be the scores to par.
"I would probably predict that the scores will be much the same as they have been in past years,'' Palmer said. "I don't think we'll see a lot of major changes. The only thing that we'll see that might be a little different is that the players won't be as many under par as they have been in the past.''
One thing that has become difficult to predict is how Tiger Woods will fare at Bay Hill.
The tournament has attracted one of the strongest fields of the year, with Jim Furyk and Adam Scott the only players missing from the top 10 in the world. Masters champion Phil Mickelson is back for the first time since 2002, while Ernie Els is playing Bay Hill for the 15th consecutive year.
Woods once played so well at Bay Hill that some suggested calling it the Tiger Woods Invitational.
But that's misleading.
True, he captured Palmer's tournament four straight years through 2003, when he won by 11 shots. And when people were speculating over his seven-tournament winning streak on the PGA Tour, some tended to chalk up an automatic victory at Bay Hill simply because Woods has won so often.
But it has been a classic case of feast or famine.
Woods has finished 20th or higher four times at Bay Hill. Among regular PGA Tour events, The Players Championship is the only other event where he has finished so far behind so often. In the 14 tour events he played as an amateur, majors included, the only time he failed to break 80 was in 1994 at Bay Hill.
And when he teed off Thursday, he was trying to end a streak of 11 consecutive rounds at Bay Hill without breaking 70.
"This week, all I have to do is shoot under par and I do it,'' he said. "It's one of those weird things. As I said, I feel comfortable on this golf course, but for some reason I just haven't played well. I haven't put it together.''
Posted by scurry at 01:33 PM
March 06, 2007
The NEW ArnoldPalmer.com - Version 2.0
This is what happens when old school goes high tech. This is what happens when one of the most storied lives -- not just in golf, but in all America -- is given the most lavish and loving consideration that only a medium like the world wide web can bestow.
Because there have been many splendid biographies written about Palmer. They highlight the 92 tournaments, including six major championships, he’s won. They detail how the son of a Latrobe, Pennsylvania, greenskeeper became a confidant of presidents, kings and Hollywood royalty. But not until ArnoldPalmer.com 2.0 has the common fan of this uncommon man had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the daily doings of someone who’s stood arm and arm with history for the past 60 years.
ArnoldPalmer.com 2.0 breaks down the Palmer life into day-by-day increments. “On This Day . . .” in the Experience Timeline gives you a daily update on one significant headline-making event in world of Palmer. Pretty neat, eh? Sure, but we weren’t satisfied settling for one item per day. Thanks to the genius of Palmer assistant Doc Giffin, we had access to more than 50 years of newspaper and magazine clips that detail Palmer’s meetings with presidents, the time in 1970 when Johnny Carson tabbed the golfer to be his “Tonight Show” stand-in, to when the lives of at-risk infants were saved in Arnold Palmer hospitals.
Every day mingles insight, warmth and glory. Take June 23. That was when President George W. Bush presented Palmer with the Presidential Medal of Honor (2004), coincidentally, 11 years to the day after Palmer was still basking over being honored by President Bill Clinton with the first National Sports Award (1993) and the same June 23 day Palmer won the 1985 Senior T.P.C. Championship earning $36,554.
Or try July 29, a day when Palmer won three different tournaments in three different states over three decades for an escalating first place prize of $3,800 (1956), $11,000 (1963), and $20,050 (1971).
Or better still, just try your birthday. See if Palmer had one of his 19 aces on the day you were born. Hint: if you were born in September, your chances are really good. Tell your buddies. Make it a game you can play while you’re waiting to tee up: Who’s birthday is more meaningful in the life of Arnold Palmer? “On This Day . . .” is home to more than 1,200 fascinating options to consider.
And that’s not all. Every career stat, decades of candid photographs, Palmer quotes, quizzes and quips are all here. It’s maybe the only place on the web you can spend hours learning about a genuine hero who broke world records in aviation and at the same time help fight prostate cancer. Because as any student of Palmer knows, life isn’t just about being good. It’s just as much about doing good.
Because this is is the place where every future Palmer biographer will begin his or her detailed and illuminating work. In fact, spend any time here and you’ll be qualified to author a fine Palmer biography all of your own.
For those of you who aren't familiar, Arnold Palmer and his trademark 4-color umbrella, are also a major fashion brand overseas. In Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malasyia and Indonesia the Arnold Palmer name represents a posh and stylish fashion label centered around the american icon. By navigating to the brands section you're able to click a country and see their latest fashion look-books, store locations and licensees. Yes, there are Arnold Palmer stores in Japan!
But with all due respect to learned researchers, this site wasn’t constructed with work in mind. Like Palmer and the game he loves so much, ArnoldPalmer.com 2.0 is pure fun. Dig in, click around. The answer to every question you’ve ever wanted to ask Palmer during a friendly round of golf is within these pages. So run your cursor over this home page. Discover the links that’ll take you inside on a journey of discovery.
All there is to do is act like Arnold Palmer.
Posted by scurry at 02:13 PM