Tag:bay hill
Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:18 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 6:00 pm

Woods heading back to familiar haunts -- Bay Hill

By Steve Elling 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- With these two in the field, it won’t matter much that many of the top internationals aren't heading to Orlando in two weeks.

Tiger Woods announced Monday that he will play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational later this month, joining another popular past champion, Phil Mickelson, in the event hosted by the legendary golfer and tournament namesake.

Woods has titles at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. He was T24 last year and won the first of his three consecutive U.S. Junior titles there.

It's a busy stretch for the former world No. 1, now ranked 16th globally. He will have played four times in six weeks by the end of the Masters in April.

Mickelson posted on his website last week that he was playing at Bay Hill, where he won in 1997. The tournament starts March 22.

Though it won't be formally announced until Wednesday, Woods will play in Orlando's Tavistock Cup on March 19-20 at Lake Nona, representing the six-man team from Albany, a course in the Bahamas. There are four six-man teams in the event and the full rosters will be released Wednesday.

Rory McIlroy, the newly minted world No. 1, is taking three weeks off after competing this week at the Cadillac Championship outside Miami, where Woods and Mickelson also are entered. Several other top international players instead are playing the week after Bay Hill, in Houston, as a tune-up to the Masters, including Lee Westwood.

Woods and Mickelson were paired in the final round at Pebble Beach last month, where Mickelson shot 64 to come from six strokes back to win.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 12:45 pm

Palmer feels Tiger's putting pangs

ORLANDO, Fla. -- At a certain point, Arnold Palmer never recovered.

Others learned to fight off the affliction to a greater degree, like Vijay Singh, who might be only Hall of Fame player who willed himself into being a competent putter in his 40s.

As a rule, the King affirmed on Wednesday, when the putter goes, it's not coming back. The host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational laughed when he was asked if he could recall when the putts he once dropped with regularity began defying him.

"Yes, I can," he said. "And I can tell you that it becomes more and more difficult as you get older."

Bad bounces and lip-outs become recurring nightmares.

"Those are the things that start happening, and you, as a player, begin to wonder," Palmer said. "I can't say that I know anybody that doesn't have that happen to him at some time if they play good and they have had a good career, that all of a sudden, once in awhile, the bounces go the wrong way or the putts rim around the cup rather than going in the cup.

"Yes, it will happen to him and it will happen to anybody else that plays golf as much as let's say we all have on our way through our career."

Him, being you-know-who.

The whole premise of the question related to the declining state of former world No. 1 Tiger's Woods' short game. Not only has Woods, 35, changed his swing, he has retooled his putting stroke, which was mostly frightful in his last start two weeks ago at Doral, when he swapped putters in mid-event.

Even last week at the Tavistock Cup, prominent players in his grouping were remarking outside of his earshot about how short Woods' putting stroke seemingly had become. Piecing together a swing with 13 clubs is tough enough, but Woods is also fighting to find consistency with the one club that for a decade almost never failed him.

But for the last three years, at minimum, putts that nearly always fell when the pressure grew strongest no longer are going in. In a broader sense, it's not an opinion-based observation that his putting has regressed, either. See if you can spot the trend in Woods statistics over the past five seasons.

Here is where he has ranked on tour in putting average: 2007 -- 4th; 2008 -- T10; 2009 -- T23; 2010 -- 40th; 2011 -- 101st.

No coincidentally, Woods hasn’t won at Augusta National since 2005, and has complained about poor putting at that venue almost every year.

Woods is playing this week at Bay Hill, where he has won six times as a professional. However, the green surfaces have been changed since he play played in 2009. Woods played nine holes on Tuesday night and 18 in the pro-am on Wednesday.

He feels the general slide in his putting results stems from comparative inattention.

"The putting will come, the chipping will come," he said Wednesday. "I'm learning a new release. That takes time."

Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 2:53 pm

Bay Hill decision sits well with this old Bean

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Andy Bean lumbered onto the range Tuesday at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge and spotted an old friend.

Emphasis on old.

"Hey old man," Bean said to Vijay Singh, a relative pup at 48.

Singh looked at Bean, a Champions Tour regular for years at age 58, with bewilderment. Bay Hill is hosting the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week, a top-tier PGA Tour event.

Insert awkward pause of several moments.

"I'm playing this week," Bean said.

Singh, never one to pass when the chance to give somebody the needle arises, said, "What do you want to go and do that for?"

I think Singh was mostly kidding. It's a valid question, after all. Bean won at Bay Hill exactly 30 years ago, one of his 11 tour victories, but hasn’t played here since 2002, even though he has a lifetime exemption as a past champion.

"I might come out here and take some money off you," Bean told Singh.

He would hardly be the first. Champions Tour stars like Nick Price, Fred Couples and John Cook, in cameo appearances, have been more than holding their own with the junior set this spring, though that didn’t necessarily factor greatly into Bean's decision to return after a nine-year hiatus. He lives in nearby Lakeland and the Champions circuit isn’t playing this week.

"Why not?" said Bean, one of the nicest guys ever to play the game. "I play golf. I've been fortunate enough to win here. I'm exempt. And Mr. Palmer said it was OK."

Bean missed the cut in his last seven Bay Hill starts and last played on the weekend here in 1995.

"I told Arnold that I’d be back any week that we [the Champions] don’t play," he said. "I am just going to play my game. I am not trying to show anybody anything."

After Singh wandered off to hit balls, Bean showed that there are some areas where he knows he can play with the youngsters this week -- on the putting green.

"I'd take him apart on the putting green," Bean winked.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 28, 2010 6:16 pm

Els delay stops bleeding, starts second guessing

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It might seem like a reprieve, but Ernie Els wasn't sure his nature-imposed timeout on Sunday was a positive development.

Els was cruising toward his second victory in as many starts, this time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, when a downpour of mistakes and precipitation began.

In short, a five-stroke lead Els had built with six holes remaining had been reduced to two shots when play was suspended for the day because of thunderstorms, just after the 40-year-old had completed the 14th hole.

Els cooled his jets for more than three hours before the round was formally pushed back until Monday at 10 a.m., but whether it was a fortuitous bit of kismet was a matter even he could not decide.

Just when it seemed he was ready to saunter to his second career title at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, he double-bogeyed the 13th and bogeyed the 14th, allowing Kevin Na to move within two shots. Na's ball was on the 15th green when play was halted.

Thanks to the rain, Els got to hit the reset button at a time when he was leaking oil, but he said the delay also gave him extra time to hammer himself over the mistakes.

"I don't know if there's ever a good time," he said. "What can I say, I was disappointed, you know? It's never the way go go into a break. It is what it is.

"[But] that's what I will be thinking about all night tonight. It won't be a very peaceful night, I don't think. I have to come out tomorrow and get it done somehow."

Els has to maneuver his way through three of the four toughest holes, statistically, for the week. Holes Nos. 15-18 rank second, 18th, fourth and first-toughest on the course.

The mistake that opened the door came at the 13th when he drove into a bunker and chunked a ball out of fluffy sand into a greenside hazard. He missed the green at the par-3 14th and bogeyed.

Els clearly needs to let both mistakes go, but the mistakes seemed to fester instead.

"Obviously I'm not totally at ease with myself right now," he said. "I'm a little angry or disappointed or whatever you want to call it. There's still work out there to be done, and I've got to get it done. I've basically got to go out there and play hard tomorrow morning, as good as I can, basically four holes as good as I can."
The silver lining is that he started the day with a one-shot lead and doubled the margin. But it was hard to see the positives when a five-shot lead had been whittled down so quickly.

"I've got to regroup, basically, and come out firing," he said.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 27, 2010 7:37 pm

Tiger's not at Bay Hill -- but idiots are

ORLANDO, Fla. -- As nearly ever fan already knows, not to mention every law enforcement official in Central Florida, Tiger Woods didn't end up playing at Bay Hill this year after all.

That didn't mean the loudmouths stayed home or that the security contingent could relax.

On the final hole of his Saturday round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Phil Mickelson was heckled repeatedly and mercilessly by a beer-toting fan along the gallery ropes near the tee, to the point where caddie Jim Mackay had to personally appeal to the guy to show some class.

The fan repeatedly yelled an unflattering term at Mickelson, prompting Mackay to walk about 20 yards over to the ropes, where the man stood alongside several other fans. When the man made a similarly rude remark to Mackay, the longtime caddie -- who has frequently interceded on behalf of Lefty's playing partners when fans have hecked them over the years -- asked PGA Tour security to intercede.

Tour security official Bill Tucker and a uniformed Orange County Sheriffs deputy gave the fan an earful after Mickelson teed off. Mickelson, to his credit, smiled throughout the incident and never remotely gave the guy the satisfaction of getting under his skin.

Though it was over in a matter of two or three minutes, the incident made witnesses and the security assigned to Mickelson's wonder aloud what sort of verbal assault Woods could face when he returns, given the scandal that has dogged him and alienated fans for the past four months.

Posted on: March 23, 2010 3:46 pm

King's champions court a bit thin this year

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Weird stat of the week.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational annually invites past champions into its 120-man field. But because of an odd confluence of events on the medical and personal fronts, the King might not recognize nearly as many faces this week when the tournament starts.

Vijay Singh, the 2007 champion, on Tuesday withdrew for the second week in a row with a bad back. That means that over the past 10 winners at Bay Hill, exactly two of them are entered -- Rod Pampling and Kenny Perry.

Of course, Tiger Woods won the Palmer title six times in that 10-year span, so when he elected to spend this week playing practice rounds at Augusta National, it put a big dent in the array of returning champions. Woods was the two-time defending champion.

Chad Campbell, who won at Bay Hill in 2004, is at home this week in Texas. He and his wife recently had their second child.
Category: Golf
Tags: bay hill, palmer
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