by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
—Golf is a fragile game and each day is different. That’s what I continue to learn from walking with the pros during my work with PGA Tour Radio. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was a great example of that as the leaderboard changed everyday and Francesco Molinari won the event by firing a 64 on the final day. He was in the picture after the first round with a round of -3 , 69. Day 2 featured a -2, 70. Nothing great, but nothing bad. Difficult conditions on Saturday produced a +1 73 and had Molinari 5 shots back of leader Matthew Fitzpatrick. No chance right? Wrong! A blistering 64 by Molinari put him with the clubhouse lead at -12 that stood up the entire day as the following groups were unable to muster a charge to reach the number. The final pairing of Fitzpatrick and Rory Mcllroy (the defending champion), collectively shot -1. A shocking pedestrian day for both players. Nobody else was able to make a great run at the top, and thus Francesco Molinari won the tournament and the red cardigan. One day does not predict the next and anything can and will happen.
—Keith Mitchell, who won the Honda Classic just over a week ago for his first win, had another great Sunday in Florida. He fired a final round 66 to finish at -8 and in the top 10. The finish also secured him a spot in The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in July. It will be the first time he will compete in The Open and he was thrilled when I interviewed him after the round. Mitchell said he didn’t know that was at stake and was glad he didn’t know because he might have messed it up! I highly doubt it the way he’s been playing as of late.
—I had a chance to visit Arnold Palmer’s office at Bay Hill and it was an absolute honor. I was encouraged to sit at his desk and was assured by staff it was okay. I don’t have the words to describe the feeling. It was surreal. The desk was left just as he left it. Pictures of family on the desk, his coffee mug, a bottle of Musk cologne, a journal and candy jar. The chair was well worn leather and the desk was an antique, but still as sturdy as can be. New boxes of Callaway balls, this year’s edition, sat on the shelves right below his shoes behind the chair. It was like he never left.
The rest of the office was a museum of sorts, paying homage to Arnie’s life as a father, golfer, and larger than life legend. Arnold Palmer was cool and everything in his office confirmed it. I wish you could have been there with me.
—Bay Hill Golf Club is much better in person that it appears on television. I find that with most courses. In particular, the closing holes 16-18 are fun and have teeth. I stood in the fairway on the 18th to get a view of the Sunday pin on the far right corner. It is a daunting shot over the water and stone wall framing it. I will never wonder again why players play for the middle of the green.
—I love when folks from Buffalo say hello when I’m walking the course at a PGA Tour event. I always try to stop and chat if I can, and as you know, Buffalo is everywhere!