Love: Even at 85, Arnie is still the king of golf

At 85 years old, Arnold Palmer is still one of the most recognizable sports figures in America – still ranking among the top-earning product endorsers each year, despite retiring from competitive play years ago.

A universally-beloved figure, it’s with pride that local golfers can claim him as one of their own. The Latrobe-native still spends nearly half his time at his nearby Westmoreland County home.

Over the years, Palmer has enjoyed relatively good health, although he did survive a bout with prostate cancer in 1996. After successful surgery, Palmer became a strong proponent of early testing.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Palmer underwent a successful pacemaker implant surgery to correct an abnormal heartbeat. Here’s to a quick recovery for a true golfing legend – the king of modern golf, Arnold Palmer.

Camilo Villegas

The winner of last week’s PGA Tour is a testament to the fickleness of golf.

Camillo Villegas, a 32 year-old native of Columbia, had not won on the PGA Tour since 2010. Over the past few years, his poor play had caused him to drop to the 254th spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Just a few weeks ago, Villegas, who had not been in contention for a victory all year, decided to take an extended vacation at his parents’ home in Columbia. While there, he made a conscious decision to not pick up a club.

Villegas’ extended break ended up paying dividends.

Teeing it up at last week’s Wyndham Championship, Villegas surprised even himself by shooting a final round 63 en route to a one-shot victory, his first in four years.

Congratulations to Villegas, who needed a victory to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which began this week.

Local champs

Last week saw club champions being crowned at Scotch Valley and Iron Masters.

David DeGol Jr, who has become one of the area’s best golfers, captured the Scotch Valley men’s title, while Michelle Day continued her dominant run as the women’s champion.

At Iron Masters, a familiar name was engraved once again on the women’s trophy as Gwen Paden captured her amazing 27th championship.

The Iron Masters men’s side saw a surprise winner as 18-year-old Matt Dillon posted scores of 76 and 73 to capture his first title.

One of the many golfers Dillon beat out during final round play included his own father – former club champion Rick Dillon, who actually played in the same foursome with his son during Sunday’s round.

The elder Dillon admitted he was never as nervous during a round of golf as he was watching his son win – or as proud.

Ken Love covers golf for the Mirror.