There is continued consternation over various stars passing on this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, the first since The King's passing. I get the anger, but I'd also argue that passing on last year's API was worse given that Mr. Palmer was battling health issues and PGA Tour officials were reminding players that he was having a tough time.
Randall Mell considered the situation as the week kicks off along with Robert Damron's comments today on Morning Drive.
“He took it personally when guys didn’t show up,” Damron said.
This is all true, but it’s also true that some top players are skipping because the Masters is three weeks away, and they’ve faced hard choices mapping the best way to prepare to win a jewel in golf’s Holy Grail.
But Mell's stronger point is not to wonder about the coming years for an API sandwiched between crippling WGC events, or who passed this year, but instead to celebrate those that did enter. (And as you'll see below, the tributes are already fantastic.)
Hey, speaking of those WGC's, their visionary-at-the-expense-of-longtime-tour-events, Tim Finchem, will be coming out of retirement to regale unsuspecting fans with his unique blend of monotone and joviality, warns reports Dave Shedloski.
As for those tributes, MorningRead.com's Steve Elling talks to various players about what Palmer meant to them, including the Orlando natives.
As was the case for Sorenstam and McDowell, Howell’s two kids were born in the Palmer hospital complex in downtown Orlando. Thus, there are bound to be some moist eyes when the 13-foot statue of Palmer, erected over the weekend, is spotted between the first and 10th tees. Forged larger than life in bronze, Palmer figuratively will be looking down upon fans and organizers.
Memorabilia from Palmer’s treasure trove of personal items will be on display in multiple locations for fans. His cart, replete with two golf bags brimming with clubs, will be parked on the grounds. Players will have Palmer’s logo umbrella stitched into their clothes, caps and bags. For the first time, there will be an opening ceremony on Thursday morning.
Shedloski reports that instead of a blue blazer, the winner will get a red cardigan in homage to The King's favorite style of layering.
In the March issue of Golfweek, Jeff Babineau interviews Faxon, Els, Love and Mediate to share some of their favorite Palmer stories. You'll want to Instapaper this for reading...and of course subscribe to Golfweek!
I loved this from Brad Faxon:
I’d never met him before, so I’m calling him Mr. Palmer. We’re walking off the first green, to the second hole, there’s the gallery ropes, and it was the biggest crowd I’d played in front of to that point. Arnold looked at me and said, ‘Son, if you want to have yourself a long and successful career’ – here he was, spreading the word – ‘you look people in the eye when you walk. Don’t look down. Always make eye contact.’ That turned out to be something prophetic. I thought that was fantastic.
Golfweek also posted this excellent timeline of Palmer's career.
Bill Fields with a short but sweet memory of tagging along with Palmer for a Golf World story.
I observed him meticulously going through a pre-flight checklist in the cockpit of his jet opposite co-pilot Lee Lauderback. I watched him at several greet-and-grin promotional appearances, working the room as enthusiastically as a rookie pro trying to make a good first impression. I noticed his restlessness when a limo driver fumbled for a quarter at a toll booth. I smiled when he holed a 7-iron for an eagle at a course opening.
Mastercard is launching an #ArnieWould campaign that is done with class, though the message also is fascinating given the view that many pros today need this reminder.
Two of my favorite wedge tributes:
A different look at the statue unveiled this week.