DEAN’S LIST for Wednesday, 26 May 2015
ARNIE, FED AND THE BLEVINS FAMILY ANGST….
Dad raised us three boys on church, the Dallas Cowboys and Arnold Palmer. I was too young – and TV coverage too primitive, to enjoy all of Arnie's heyday. But I saw enough and heard enough to join Arnie's Army and follow him as closely as possible beginning in the early sixties.
Palmer's most prolific years were 1960-63 when he won 29 of his 62 Tour events, including five majors in four seasons. Unfortunately for our household, Jack Nicklaus – or “Fat Jack” to the Army, burst on the scene and ended Arnie's blitzkrieg after Palmer won the 1964 Masters. It would be his fourth Green Jacket in six years but his seventh and final major championship.
Although Arnie became the first man to reach one million dollars in career earnings on the PGA Tour in 1967, the glory days ended in 1964. I spent the next 40 years watching Arnie stand over 4-foot putts that he missed more than he made and never could crack the code. But anyone in our Blevins bloodline would root, and hope and grind with his every chance to win again.
But it was over for Arnie as a major champion. Much like I'm afraid my favorite tennis player of all time as won his last major. But that doesn't stop me from once again rooting, hoping and grinding with every chance Roger Federer has to win another major.
ROGER MOVING ALONG EARLY AT THE FRENCH…
The first sentence of Federer's latest attempt at capturing the magic and winning another major reads like so many in the past: “Roger Federer continued his seamless progress at the French Open on Wednesday by ousting Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 to reach the third round.
Once again Federer is in good position to give himself a chance, safely in the other half of the draw to Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and reigning champ Rafael Nadal. But being into position and beating champions in their prime are two different things.
There's not a current best-of-all-time in tennis like there was with Nicklaus, but there's ample talent to make it highly unlikely Fed's quest in this French Open will end any differently than those Sunday's of watching Arnie stand pigeon-toed over those 4-footers in major championships, only to be let down once again.
MEETING THE KING WAS SPECIAL
I met Arnie in 2004 in the 19th hole of his Bay Hill Golf Club which is a story for another day. I got to spend twenty minutes with The King after meeting him again in Salisbury, NC a few years ago at the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association award ceremony. CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz honored Arnie that night with a special award. Nantz was with us during part of our conversation and clearly had an incredible fondness and respect for Arnie. Mr. Palmer was respectful when I asked him questions about Tiger Woods, who had just been caught by his wife having those wicked extramarital affairs. I remember Arnie deftly complimenting Tiger the golfer, but saying that talent and work ethic was not enough for Woods to remain on top. And that health and making the game more complicated than it is could become an issue to Eldrick. Nailed it.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
So as I sit back and hope to report on a Federer championship, I'm anticipating another early exit. But following Arnie and Fed has been a blast. Skill and style. Thanks for the memories…
IT'S OBVIOUS WHY SAM PRESTI WANTED SHUMPERT SO BADLY …
Sam Presti was persistent, albeit determined in his pursuit of a 2014-15 trade for Iman Shumpert. Easy to see why now. Shumpert's the defensive player OKC needed more than the offense and hit and miss defense of Deon Waiters. LeBron loves him and has played a big role in the former Knick's steady improvement from solid to outstanding. Gotta believe KD would've successfully played that role had Iman joined Big Blue.