As you might expect, Arnold Palmer had a busy day on Thursday.
He oversaw the first round of his Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where the strongest field on the PGA Tour so far this season has gathered.
He taped a promo for the Golf Channel. He signed autographs for fans. He spent some time with sponsors like Ketel One. He even gave Graeme McDowell a 1-iron out on the range.
And, oh yeah, he had dinner with Kate Upton.
Upton's manger is Lisa Benson, whose father is from Punxsutawney, Pa., and used to play golf with Palmer at Latrobe Country Club. She was looking for a job at IMG, which, in addition to managing sports and entertainment, also represents top models. Her father talked to Palmer, who talked to IMG to arrange an interview. She got the job and years later connected with Upton.
Upton grew up in Melbourne, Fla., not far from Orlando, and her parents were huge Arnie fans. Upton thought it would be a great idea to come to Bay Hill, meet Palmer and see the work he's doing with the two children’s hospitals that bear his name.
She also plans to take part in a social media campaign involving Palmer's iced tea-lemonade drink.
Every time I've met Arnie, I've gotten a hearty handshake. Upton, however, got a big smooch on the cheek (to which I say, way to go, Arnie!). Palmer also welcomed Upton into Arnie's Army by affixing one of his famous umbrella pins on her lapel – and earning, yet again, the respect and envy of every guy in the world of golf.
Graeme McDowell wasn’t looking for a gift on Wednesday as he was hitting balls at Bay Hill to prepare for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. So, when Mr. Palmer came over and handed G-Mac an old 1-iron, the Ulsterman hit a few head-high stingers, dispelling the myth that even God can’t hit a 1-iron.
But the story got interesting when G-Mac tried to give the club back. According to the Golf Channel, Mr. Palmer told him, “No, you keep that.”
G-Mac asked if he was serious, and Arnie grinned and reportedly said, “Absolutely.”
Not everyone can use one of the King’s butter-knives. But even fewer can own one.
Just as the PGA Championship traditionally boasts the strongest field of the year, the Senior PGA Championship almost always earns the same honor on the senior circuit. And judging by the preliminary field list released today, that'll be true again this year.
Already in the field are eight major champions, three past Senior PGA champions, five Ryder Cup captains and four Hall of Fame members. They'll descend on beautiful Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis for the 74th edition of the senior game's oldest and most prestigious championship on May 21-26.
Bellerive will make history this year by hosting the Senior PGA Championship – it'll become only the third club in the United States to host all four traveling men's professional majors: PGA Championship (1992), Senior PGA Championship (2013), U.S. Open (1965) and U.S. Senior Open (2004).
If you're interested in going, there are a variety of ticket options and packages. Tickets range from $15 for a Tuesday Daily Grounds ticket to $300 for a Weeklong Clubhouse pass. Additionally, ticket purchasers will get the first opportunity to buy tickets for the Centennial PGA Championship – one of golf's most anticipated major championships – which also will take place at Bellerive in August 2018.
For more info on tickets, click here.
And for complete coverage of the 74th Senior PGA Championship, click here.
Now this is getting ridiculous.
A 12-year-old Chinese boy will become the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event in May after he qualified for the Volvo China Open this week.
Ye Wocheng finished third in one of the tournament’s four 36-hole regional qualifiers. He carded a 4-under 68 Wednesday despite three-putting his last two holes at the Wolong Valley Country Club, and had a 2-over 74 on Tuesday to finish three shots behind Jin Daxing and Li Xinyang with a two-round total of 142
Ye, a member of the Hillview Golf Club in Dongguan, is set to break the record held by Guan Tianlang, who was 13 when he played in the same Volvo China Open last year.
Ye’s apparently no fluke – a couple years ago, he dominated the boys' 9- and 10-year-old division of the San Diego Junior Masters Championship, winning by seven shots. The photo above is of that trophy presentation.
Guan won his age group in that event as well, and has gone on to greater success. He won the Asia-Pacific Amateur last year, and will play in the Masters next month. So Ye still has something to shoot for.
You couldn't blame the golfers on the range Tuesday at Bay Hill for not keeping their eyes on the ball. That's because a huge, somewhat scary-looking remote-controlled flying camera was zipping around over their heads.
The aerial camera is made by a company called HoverFly, and the Golf Channel is giving one a pretty good workout at the PGA Tour event closest to the Channel's headquarters in Orlando. This model is called the Erista, and it's designed for professional aerial cinematography and live streaming from the air.
I didn't get a chance to flip over to the Golf Channel to see if they were talking about, or showing, the camera. Hey, sometimes when you work in golf, you don't have time to actually watch golf. But the photos posted on Twitter look pretty cool, and Chad Coleman of Callaway Golf even posted a short video clip of the thing scooting around.
The drone looks fairly menacing, but it's only outfitted with video gear and not nuclear-tipped cruise missiles or anything. Such things are fairly costly, so I presume its on-the-ground controller will work to keep the thing mostly over the heads of the players on the range.
After all, if they station it downrange at all, you just know know some players will take dead aim.
And you know what they say: These guys are good.