GREEN JACKET MODEL
The four-time Masters champ, 79, owns Bay Hill, home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Dan Patrick: Has Tiger Woods passed Jack Nicklaus as the best clutch putter?
Arnold Palmer: Well, we don't know that yet. [He's] getting pretty close, though.
DP: Could you ever see Tiger developing the yips?
AP: Oh, my goodness, I would question that. Ben Hogan claimed he had the yips and didn't know what to do to stop them. But you don't hear about the yips anymore. I guess it's because these people are so young.
DP: The caddies were miked at this week's tournament in Houston. Good idea?
AP: It may bring a little attention—although I know some things have been said that we certainly wouldn't want to come across the air.
DP: If someone has never been to the Augusta before, what's the first thing they notice?
AP: The presence. The magnolias, the clubhouse, the people. You don't find that anywhere else in the world.
DP: If you could change one thing about Augusta, what would it be?
AP: I'm not sure that I would change many things. Maybe a couple of holes that I didn't do well on or a couple of strokes over the years.
DP: Was there one hole that was always your worst?
AP: My single worst hole was 18, when I made six in 1961. I had the tournament wrapped up and made a double bogey. But on another couple of occasions I made birdie to win the tournament on 18, so I couldn't say that would always be my worst. That one day, it was pretty horrible.
DP: Looking at what Tiger came back from, what's the worst injury that you played with?
AP: I had a back injury many years ago. It's still hurting my golf, what little I play now.
DP: What's your best recent round?
AP: Oh, I had a 71 the other day here at Bay Hill.
DP: That's the problem, Arnie, you shoot a 71 and think, I still got it.
AP: Well, it was a scrambling 71.
DP: You don't apologize for a 71. Did you make any money on it?
AP: Yeah, I made a few bucks.
DP: What's the most you ever played for?
AP: Well, in tournaments, a lot. With my guys around here—maybe $100.
Is Detroit the Answer?
GEORGE KARL'S Nuggets have taken off since the team gave up Allen Iverson (above, with Richard Hamilton) to get Chauncey Billups from the Pistons in early November. "We went two years without a really good point guard," Karl told me. "We struggled with passing." Karl said that Billups enjoys playing in Denver's up-tempo system. On the flip side, Karl said that Iverson is struggling in Detroit because the Pistons play a more conservative game. "I still think AI is a dynamite scorer, but he has to be in the open court a little bit more than Detroit wants to play," Karl said. "That conflict has been so glaring. They're more comfortable running plays, where AI is more comfortable just playing basketball."
Food for Thought
HERE'S ONE thing I have to look forward to in a couple of years: an expensive dinner, courtesy of Reggie Miller. Last week Reggie said he thought that Tyler Hansbrough would end up having a better NBA career than Blake Griffin. His argument is that Hansbrough will go later in the draft, which will put him on a better team. Miller also said he thought Griffin was undersized as a power forward. ("He kind of reminds me of Charles Barkley, but he doesn't run like Charles," Miller said, presumably talking about Charles in his prime.) Maybe, but I'm taking Griffin, and we wagered a nice meal on it. A good sign for me: George Karl, a North Carolina guy, came down on my side. "I don't know if Reggie's a personnel guy," Karl said, pointing out that Griffin is so strong on the glass—which bodes well for his future. "The one fundamental that transfers to pro basketball almost every time is great rebounding."
Fighting Until the End
ALLEGATIONS of recruiting improprieties against his program have UConn coach Jim Calhoun pondering his future, but one rival—who has been going up against Calhoun for years—thinks that the brewing scandal will make the 66-year-old more inclined to stick around. "If these outside troubles were not going on, he might [leave]," Villanova coach Jay Wright said on Monday. "I think he might stay just to make sure everything is straight and in order when he departs. He is the most competitive guy I know."
THE FINE PRINT: The NBA held its inaugural Green Week. That explains the wind turbine on Yao Ming.
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more from Arnold Palmer and other recent interviews, and hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m.-noon ET, Mon.-Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
REBECCA COOK/REUTERS (IVERSON)
AL TIELEMANS (CALHOUN)
ANDREW REDINGTON/GETTY IMAGES (PALMER)