Tag Archives: Arnold Palmer

Trump presents Medal of Freedom to Tiger, but … wait!

This is what happens when a president of the United States refuses to divest himself of his vast business interests prior to taking the nation’s most exalted public office.

Donald Trump presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods, honoring the greatest golfer of his generation — and perhaps of all time — for winning his fifth Masters Tournament and his 15th major professional golf championship.

Woods becomes the fourth pro golfer to be awarded in this fashion. President George W. Bush presented Presidential Medals of Freedom to a pair of golf legends, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus; President Obama awarded one to Charlie Sifford.

No one questioned those presidents’ motives. Trump brings another element to this ceremony.

He and Woods have a business relationship. Woods has been a highly visible promoter of golf at Trump Organization properties. Some have wondered about the president’s motive in honoring Woods. Is he doing so in an altruistic fashion or is he seeking to promote his own business in association with Tiger Woods? That’s the question of the moment.

Donald Trump declined to divest himself of his business interests upon becoming president. He remains associated with the Trump Organization, although he reportedly turned over day-to-day operations to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric.

I don’t know what motivates Donald Trump, although I have my suspicions and my beliefs. I merely am left to wonder and to echo the questions that have come from many quarters about whether the president occupies his high office for the right reasons.

Now he might be sullying the reputation of a pro golfer, Tiger Woods, who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his immense contribution to our national culture.

If only the president who awarded it wasn’t so, um, compromised.

The King would be proud of Tiger

Golf isn’t supposed to evoke these kinds of emotions.

Today, though, it did. Tiger Woods — considered by many to the “greatest of all time” — won his fifth Masters tournament. I don’t usually get wrapped up emotionally in golf tournaments. Except when Tiger Woods is involved.

I’ll stipulate that Tiger is not the first pro golfer to get me this juiced up. The first one was the late Arnold Palmer, aka “The King.” Arnie was the swashbuckler, a man’s man. He exuded charisma and machismo. He also could hit the hell out of a golf ball.

Palmer four won four of those green jackets. The all-timer, of course, is Jack Nicklaus, with six of them. Nicklaus also has those 18 major championships in his ledger, which for my money makes him the GOAT.

Today, though, was Tiger’s day.

I’ve been pulling for him to make this kind of comeback. He teetered on the edge of golf oblivion. There was that nasty philandering scandal that ruined his marriage to the former Miss Sweden beauty queen. Then came the injuries. The surgeries. The comebacks from the surgeries. The relapses.

Tiger Woods might be a dirt bag of a husband. He is a devoted father and a loving son to his mother Kultida.

He’s also one hell of a great golfer.

Tiger Woods was able to bring a tear to my eye as I watched him win today’s Masters. I happen to believe that The King is looking down from on high and is pulling for him to keep winning.

Welcome back, Tiger; many of us have missed you

I am heartened to hear the news that Tiger Woods is planning yet another comeback to the world of professional golf.

You have to understand how I feel about this guy. I will concede in a New York minute that he has proved himself to be a dirt bag of a husband. His serial philandering was too much for his ex-wife to bear. He got caught up in that nasty scandal — and then his health went bad.

I tend to separate sports celebrities’ personal life from their exploits on their respective fields of competition.

I like watching pro golf on TV. I really like watching Tiger Woods compete. He brings a certain panache and flair to a game that at times needs it. The Golden Age of golf, from my standpoint, occurred in the 1960s and ’70s, when Arnie competed head to head with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player; then came Tom Watson and Lee Trevino. (I  need not bother with a last name when referencing The King of Golf. The same can be done, I suppose, with Tiger.)

Tiger has 14 major titles under his belt. He’s seeking to break Jack’s record of 18. I once thought it was a done deal. It now appears out of reach, given his recent performances on the links.

Whatever, he says he is coming back in December. Tiger has gone through those back surgeries. He’s suffered some personal indignities along the way. He and rival Phil Mickelson revealed recently that they really are pals, that their so-called mutual dislike was trumped up.

Tiger will have a tough road ahead to regain his top-tier ranking. The pro golf game is full of young guns ready to take their place among the greats of the game: Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson come to mind. They are as fearless as Tiger Woods has proved to be in the heat of competition.

So … welcome back, Tiger.

This golf fan is pulling for you.

Pulling for a comeback from Tiger

Call me strange.

But I do enjoy watching pro golf on TV more than pro football. Pro basketball, too, except when the Portland Trail Blazers are on the tube.

Accordingly, I keep hoping for a comeback from a young man named Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, who announced this week he is going to skip next week’s Masters Tournament, an event he has won four times.

Tiger’s back is acting up. He can’t rehab it sufficiently to allow him to play at a competitive level. So, he’s sitting out an event that the great Jack Nicklaus once said he’d win more Masters green jackets than he and the late Arnold Palmer did combined; Jack won six of ’em, Arnie won four.

I’m not entirely sure why I remain drawn to Tiger Woods, the golfer. Tiger the husband turned out to be pretty much of a dirt bag, as he cheated wildly on his gorgeous then-wife, Elin.

It pretty much went to hell after that for Tiger.

Tiger remains on the injured list

He hurt his back. His major championship total stands at 14; he says he wants to surpass the 18 majors owned by Nicklaus.

I don’t know what pro golf’s TV ratings have done since Tiger hit the skids. I’m guessing many TV watchers are like me: They’d prefer to watch Tiger on the course than nearly anyone else.

I want the young man to make a full comeback. Do I care if he breaks the all-time major championship record? Not really. Jack Nicklaus, by all rights, should stand as the greatest of all time.

Tiger Woods belongs on the golf course — and on my TV screen.

Goodbye and good riddance, 2016


We’re still about two weeks from the end of a truly crappy year.

Not for me personally, mind you. My health remains good, as does my wife’s health. We’re spending more time on the road in our recreational vehicle and having a blast every mile we’ve traveled. Our family is doing well, too. We’ve got some big changes in store for the coming year. You’ll be hearing about them as they develop.

No, this year sucks out loud because of the deaths that have occurred. I hope I’m not getting ahead of myself by taking note this far in advance of the end of the year. It’s been a tough time for iconic figures. For instance, we lost:

David Bowie, the genius British musician, songwriter, actor and trailblazing artist, died of cancer. Iggy Stardust is no longer with us. I knew he had cancer, but like a lot of his fans, I was unaware that his time had run out.

Prince died at his suburban Minneapolis mansion. Talk about a genius. Wow! Have you seen that tremendous guitar riff he did during the 2002 concert memorializing the late Beatle George Harrison? He also left behind a vault full of hundreds of unpublished songs.

Muhammad Ali bid us farewell. This one hurt terribly. The three-time heavyweight boxing champion was far more than a warrior in the ring. He was a champion for the causes in which he believed. He fought for civil rights, against the Vietnam War (which cost  him his title) and for justice. Oh, and he was the most beautiful fighter any of us ever had seen. He fought with power and blazing speed and grace.

Arnold Palmer is gone, too. They called him The King of Golf. His majesty, indeed, brought golf into the television age. He was a man’s man. He played great — and exciting — golf. He was a middle-class guy who won — and lost — in unconventional ways. Fellow golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez once said it well: “Every golfer today owes everything to  Arnold Palmer.”

John Glenn was 95 when he died just recently. He was a former U.S. senator, a Marine fighter pilot and an astronaut. Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth, on Feb. 20, 1962. He returned to space 36 years later to become the oldest man, at age 77, to ever fly in space; he took his place in the space shuttle Discovery, which lifted off the launch pad carrying “six astronaut heroes and one American legend.”

I cannot recall a single year producing this level of national and international mourning.

Oh, and we had that presidential campaign, too. It didn’t turn out the way many of us wanted. We’ll persevere, I’m sure.

So long, 2016, and good riddance! You really sucked all year long.

Arnie’s death somehow overshadows that other event


I’m feeling strange this afternoon.

My intention had been to focus on tonight’s presidential joint appearance between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Donald J. Trump.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’m a political geek/nerd/junkie. I love this stuff. I cannot help myself.

My plan was to get myself psyched up — so to speak — for the 90-minute made-for-TV special. No commercials, too! How about that?

Then the sad news broke yesterday. Arnold Palmer died at 87 in a Pittsburgh hospital.

Arnie was gone! He was one of my all-time favorite pro athletes. I agonized with him when he lost big golf tournaments. I cheered when he won them. I loved watching him smash a golf ball with that self-taught, non-textbook style of his.

I had the pleasure of meeting him once, in 1981, at a golf tournament in Orlando, Fla. He was past his golfing prime by then. That didn’t matter to those of us gathered around the practice tee to shake his hand and get his autograph, both of which he delivered with a smile and some brief small talk.

I keep reading the tributes from his peers, his golfing descendants, the reporters who covered him.

They sadden me. In this vague, unexplainable way I always thought Arnold Palmer was indestructible.

Well, he wasn’t.

So I’m going to watch this Clinton-Trump verbal slugfest tonight. However, I’m expecting to struggle to stay focused on what these two politicians say to — and about — each other.

Arnie is gone; long live The King


Sitting on my desk at home is a golf program.

It contains a couple of signatures. One of them belongs to Jim Dent, a pretty good journeyman golfer known in his day as a big hitter off the tee.

The other signature belongs to The King of golf, Arnold Daniel Palmer.

Arnie died today at the age of 87. Man, I am sad tonight.

Here’s my Arnie story that I want to share in remembrance of one of my favorite all-time athletes, who ranks with Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali and Mario Andretti as sporting icons I used to root for over many years.

I traveled to Orlando, Fla., in October 1981. My late aunt and uncle — Tom and Verna Kanelis — lived there at the time. Tom was an avid golfer and I played a couple rounds of golf with him while visiting them in central Florida.

One evening, he asked me if I wanted to see the World Team Championship at the Walt Disney World. “Arnold Palmer is going to be there,” he said. “Are you kidding? Absolutely!” I answered.

We drove to the Disney resort the next day. Tom had gotten a couple of tickets to watch the first round of golf.

We went to the practice tee where — son of a gun! — there was Arnie hitting practice shots on the driving range alongside Jim Dent.

I asked Dent to sign my program after he was done hitting some tee shots. He did so with a smile and was a terrific gentleman. Then we waited for Palmer.

Arnie finished hitting his practice balls and walked off the tee to a small gaggle of fans.

You hear about superstars who are aloof. Some of them refuse to sign autographs. Arnie was neither. He was friendly, engaging and as he signed his name to the documents thrust toward him, he took a moment to talk to us individually.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” I recall him asking me. “Have fun out there,” he said. I recall telling him I planned to walk the course among the fans accompanying him and his playing partner, Larry Nelson. “Have a great time,” he said.

OK. My story isn’t unique. It’s like perhaps thousands of stories that other golf fans — and Arnie fans — can tell. I want to share it here as my way of conveying that this guy was the real deal.

He truly was golf’s greatest ambassador. He was an everyman who happened to play a hell of a great game of golf.

Another great golfer, Jack Nicklaus, said this: “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.”

There you have it.

Rest in peace, Arnie. You surely gave this fan one of the great thrills of his life.