Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #20

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Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida was the site of the PGA Tour stop this past weekend, known as the Arnold Palmer Invitational it’s the king’s legacy. Palmer first played there in 1965 and shot a 66, and fell in love with the course, so much so he purchased the property in 1976. Today’s professional golfers owe everything to Palmer and most of them realize it. He was one of the first TV golfers. He mastered golf merchandising, and was responsible for bringing a lot of blue collar workers to the game. Even though he passed away nearly five years ago his presence is still felt throughout the property. Known for wearing bright sweaters of different colors, besides the huge paycheck and FEDEX points, the winner receives a red cardigan.

Bay Hill has a good mixture of difficult and easy holes, but mostly it’s a strong test for even the best stick. The rough is thick and there are few straight holes. Most require a player to move the ball one way or another off the tee to avoid the rough, the sand and the water.

One player in the field had a different strategy, Bryson DeChambeau just flew his ball over all the trouble. In the third round on Saturday with the wind at his back on hole 6, a 575 yard par 5 dog leg left with water guarding the entire left side, he ripped a drive over the length of the lake, landing in the rough only 70 yards from the green. 370 yards as the crow flies. He dug the ball out of the high grass to the edge of the green and got it up and down for an easy birdie.

This tournament had a little bit of everything, there were two hole-in-one’s on the 14th hole, and there were high numbers too, a 9 and an 11 to be precise. Mastercard, the presenting sponsor, was planning to award $200,000 to charity for the first ace on the 14th hole. They decided to donate $400,000 since there were two aces.

Several golfers were in the hunt on the final day but, one by one Bay Hill took it’s toll and they faded away. In fact, the lowest score on the final day was just one under par. Rory Mcllroy shot a disappointing four over to finish at three under, eight shots off the lead. Jordan Spieth could only manage plus three for a six under total, that was good enough for a tie for 4th in his first trip to Bay Hill. It came down to match play on the back nine Sunday, and Lee Westwood, the 47 year old veteran from England, two putted the 72nd hole from 60 feet for birdie to force DeChambeau to two putt from half that distance to win. As his first putt drifted 7 feet past the hole, Bryson stepped up and drilled it for the one shot victory. It was only fitting that a man a go for broke style of play like Arnold Palmer 50 years earlier would carry the day.

Well I hope you got a chance to get out this past weekend in the 60 degree weather and practice your game. I did and came back with two rewards for my work on the range… blisters on my left index finger and right ring finger. I guess “no pain, no gain.”

Until next week, hit ’em straight!